Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Abandoned Blogs Make Baby Jesus Cry

This blog isn't dead it's just sleeping! I swear! Anyway if you came to look at this blog because of my Aaron Sorkin post (Hi Twoppers!) this blog is mostly about me and Weight Watchers but occasionally I posted little anecdotes of amusement. And sometimes I rant about old episodes of Loveline and Adam Corrolla. Yeah this blog makes no sense, I agree. I'm the total "blogger in her pjs with a freezer full of Lean Cuisines and an apartment full of cats." (For the record, the two cats I live with aren't mine and the Lean Cuisines are very, very old because I don't like them.)

I am about to be unemployed again after a lovely five-month interval of being an actual employed "activisty" blogger. I would love to link to my other stuff on here, but I'm not sure I want the world to know that my regular persona has such low self-esteem.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Loveline interesting moment #2: Cartoon Dialogue

It's time for another post which reminds me why I started this blog. Michael Narren has created four really amusing Loveline cartoons where are based on small snippets of dialogue which he then animated. One is called "Finding Fauntleroy" (where Adam explaines how Drew took the PSATs while still in the womb). I finally found the actually broadcast where this snippet came from, November 16, 2004. It happens about 18 minutes into the broadcast. A female caller says she's definately going to college but is starting at Junior College first. This sets Adam off on his usual "Jr. College" rant. Drew asks the caller what she got on her SATs and the girl says she didn't take them. This is what inspires Adam's musings on when Drew first took the SATs.

Interestingly I think this episode may also be the source of the ubiquitous sound clip of Drew saying "Your gay." It's hard to tell. About 72 minutes into the show Adam is talking about something to do with penises and intros with "This might seem like a possibly gay question."

Whereas Drew is heard saying "You're gay." It comes off pretty natural, not like Anderson playing the clip. But it certainly could be Anderson. It's pretty off-hand though, so maybe that wasn't even the source, just something Drew happened to say that night.

Also see Loveline interesting moment #1: Birth of Chief Thunderbear.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lip balm mania!

Heh. I didn't realize there was a little club on Flickr that was as obsessed with lip balms as I am.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Saturday, May 06, 2006

(Gottfrid) Chair – a love story

I’m not sure exactly when we first met. I know it was after my first roommate moved out and took her re-upholstered kitchen chairs with her. Of course I was heart-broken. My roommate had lovingly repainted and refurbished two older chairs, making them cool. Making them comfy. But now she was gone and so were they.

Naturally she left me the broken kitchen chairs. The ones whose form matched the table perfectly but in function only had three working legs. I knew no amount of glue would ever fix our relationship, it was broken from the start.

So it was with a heavy heart I set out for IKEA, not really expecting to find much. IKEA is the bargin basement of pressboard furniture love. The kind of place where you find Ms.-right-now, not Ms.-I’ll-be-giving-you-to-my-grandchildren-someday kind of furniture.

Some people say love at first sight, but for us it was love at first sit. Oh sure, I had an inkling you were the one when I first saw your curved black form with u-shaped padding. But it wasn’t until I sat in you that I felt my back and my ass just scream with comfort “YES! YES! YES!”

Why do we love the ones they do? Why do we seek to find flaws in others that we miss in our dear ones? I don’t know. All I know was the combination of a curved padded backing, slightly downward titled seating that was wide enough and cushioning enough meant you were made for comfort but your sleek black&white design meant you were still pretty enough to bring home to momma.

There was one minor hitch in our love, we didn’t match styles. You were painted black and white, whereas my kitchen table was a warm chestnut wood. But no matter. I didn’t care if our styles clashed, I was taking you home.

Or I should have. In years since of course I would kick myself for not taking you right there and then. What can I say? I was young. You cost $80 + tax which I thought was exorbitant considering my first chairs only cost $15 at the Goodwill. At best I was only thinking I would be able to buy one of you, an awkward child that would never last in the long-run. The first “real” house or apartment I moved into, the single unmatched chair would have to go. But I wanted you so bad I was willing to buy only one, just so we could be together.

But I waited. Time passed. My fortunes rose and fell, and then fell some more. Spending $80 for a kitchen chair was impossibility when grocery money was measured out by $5 bills.

A turning point in our love

Then things changed. My 30th birthday comes and I am gifted with enough money to buy one of you. Still I hesitate. It feels like I’ve been waiting so long, what’s another few months. A friend convinces me to spend my money differently. To wait further.

And so it goes. I want to make myself worthy of you. I want my large ass not to crack your beautiful frame. I will get in shape. I will lose weight and only then will we be together.

As the date approaches however something goes wrong. Suddenly you are no longer at your usual place, IKEA. All the searching of the globe reveals is that while you remain in England and Canada, you have left America for good.

Heartbreak! It is over. My perfect chair love is lost forever. I consider trips to Europe and Canada. I’m suddenly willing to spend hundreds of dollars to achieve something that cost only $80 once.

Slowly I being to resign myself to our fate...we will never be together. I return to the scene of our first love, Ikea. I flirt with Henriksdal, he has been around forever and is dependable if not exiting. But no matter what I look like, I can’t match your beautiful craftsmanship. Your combination of padding and curves. My back and ass do no welcome other chairs with such job.

In a drunken daze I bring home a $250 filly, marked down to $20 in a liquidation sale. You would think I would be happy with such a high-class chair. One that is normally too rich for my blood.

But alas, all I can think of is you. How happy we would have been together. I weep for our lost love.

A miracle

And then the gods smiled upon us. An innocuous ad in craigslist. “Table and chairs for sale- $100.” How many ads like it have I not clicked on? I don’t know. But I was bored, searching, always searching. And there you were! A pair, bright as day! The ad crucially failed to mention your pedigree, but I knew you on sight. What was one out of reach, what once I would have been willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for was not ripe to be plucked for half price. A pair for $80! I would have even been willing to take the table if necessary to get to you.

And so it was. Your previous owner didn’t need you anymore and I reached her within 15 minutes of her posting her ad. My only concern was that somehow she wouldn’t wait a mere day or two for us to be together. Perhaps another buyer would snatch you out of my grasp once more.

But our love was bending fate to my will. My first paycheck in 4 weeks was direct deposited faster than I expected. I now had the means to buy you.

And so there you both sit in my dinning room. We are as happy as clams together. Although the waiting was cruel I now know that true love only comes from being tested. My back, my ass and your frame will live forever together in harmony.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Gottfrid chair come back?

About five days ago I noticed that the IKEA chair of my dreams, the Gottfrid, disappeared of the IKEA USA website (usually meaning that’s it for the item). I don’t think I can even convey how upset this made me. I’ve been dreaming about this chair for almost a year now. It’s become totally fetishized in my brain as the most perfect kitchen chair (for it’s price range). I was saving up to buy it but also it was going to be my reward for hitting my 10% goal.

So I’ve been randomly googling “Gottfrid chair” a lot the last few days, trying to see if I can find someone selling a used set at least. Apparently it’s for sale still in Canada and the UK.

Yesterday I found the IKEA Gottfrid chair link was working again (it had gone offline) and I managed to order two chairs. But then by the end of the day, IKEA sent me an e-mail saying the chair was out of stock and will not be shipped and so my credit card will not be charged.

Now I see the Gottfrid chair is back on the IKEA USA website, visible even when looking at all their chairs. It’s still out of stock for the entire IKEA USA stores (I looked up stock availability at each store just to see) but perhaps IKEA is thinking about bringing it back, hence why they brought the chair back to the website?

I can only hope.

You know I was reminding myself that I was becoming a lot like the main character in Fight Club by fetishizing home décor. Like that line where he says about his coffee table, “That’s it, at least I knew I had the last coffee table I was ever going to need.” I’ve been thinking how much I’m starting to resemble that character at the beginning of the movie.

UPDATE: I called IKEA customer service and the woman said IKEA is definately *not* selling the chairs anymore. And then I just started looking on craigslist and someone in my neighborhood just happens to be selling two of them and a table for $100. It's not even labeled "Gottfrid" I can just tell by the picture. I MUST HAVE THOSE CHAIRS.

UPDATE II: Check out the thrilling resolution, "Chair, A Love Story."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sunday, April 30, 2006

More designing with food-Orbitz

This is part of my continuing series of decorating themes with food. Every once in a while you just find this perfect combination of style and cool and just works out better than you ever could have imagined. I've had this bottle of Orbitz (the drink) since at least 1997. I was living in a dorm room and noticed someone had placed a bottle above a swinging lamp that was in every room. Voilá, instant lava lamp.

So naturally I copied it for my own dorm room. After I left the dorms I just had this bottle hanging around. It still looked cool, but I didn't really have a way of duplicating the lamp in my dorm room. So for nine years I just have been carting the thing around, putting it on ledges and window sills for effect.

But last weekend at IKEA I saw these Kubbo lamps. It completely duplicates the instant lava lamp without actually having to sit on a real lamp. It's so perfect and cool looking its like the Kubbo lamp was made just for Orbitz bottles. That's actually a picture of my nine-year-old bottle sitting on the Kubbo lamp.

Oh yeah, I never ever tried the drink. Rumour had it as very nasty, like drinking something super-sweet with phlegm in it.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Urban Outfitter-IKEA-Crate & Barrel style envy

So I finally got a temp job to start Monday at a large nationally famous non-profit known for helping people out in disaster areas (who's symbol and color is also its name). After not working for three weeks I was about ready to tear my hair out. Not that staying home and playing video games aren't fun. In fact I sort of settled into playing Civilization IV as my only means of keeping me from panicking about my financial situation. I also read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for the fifth time. (Re-reading Harry Potter is sort of the equivalent of "comfort food.") As it is, I've already borrowed $300 from my family and will have to borrower rent money--but I intend to refund at least the $300 right after I get my first paycheck. I won't get paid until the same day rent is due so it's more about the timing than the money.

But I find it odd that my mind is already cashing checks I haven't even earned as I slowly start surfing furniture and design stores again. In supreme irony, Ikea seems to have stopped selling the Gottfrid chair I was obsessed over (and which I used my birthday money intended for the chair to sign up with Weight Watchers). Guess I'll have to find another chair to obsess over. I was planning on buying it when I hit my 10% weight loss goal (when you lose 10% of your body weight, which for me is 23 lbs.)

But now that I have a new roommate moving in, (if you read this blog all the way through, in March all I do is talk about my roommate search. I have a lovely girl who's 8 years my junior moving in but I don't intend to talk about her in case one day she reads this blog. But she was pretty much my first choice and the only one I felt in sympatico with when I showed the apartment off the one weekend. And I wasn't even stoned that day.) I'm becoming more and more obsessed with fixing up my apartment, style-wise.

My first roommate and I really worked together to come up with a kind of color scheme. We had a sort of gray, black, white, dark blue and red theme going on. I won't say it was perfectly designed or anything, but it felt like the apartment really "hung" together stylistically. Then when she moved out, she took out her art from the common areas (natch) and my second roommate, other than adding a broken clock and a Dali painting, never really tried to fix up the room. For her this was meant to be a temporary place (well 18 months). I'm not faulting her for it, but we didn't even take down the old picture hooks so we had these new pictures (and the clock) hanging half-hazardly wherever an old picture used to hang. I even resorted to hanging a poster on the wall just to fill some of the empty wall space.

So now that I will soon to earning income again I started to peruse Urban Outfitters and Crate & Barrel and to a lesser extent IKEA (sob! my chair...my perfect chair is gone!). Walking into Urban Outfitters especially makes me feel like a slob with no style. Everything they have looks so "cool" even though part of me knows that it's just mass produced "coolness." Buying fake crappy art to hang on your walls is bad, whereas at least hanging up old advertising posters you personally collected (therefore no one else has) is at least original. But I shouldn't sound too much like a snob about all these. I remember from my Critical Theory class we were talking about the concept of "original" and what does that mean when it's something like a photography or a reproduction. Unless you are hanging the only painting in existence with that particular image is why is "originality" important? What does "limited edition print" really stand for? (Except an attempt to raise the value of an image). I was so swept up into that theory that for my mother's 60th birthday I insisted to my brother we buy her one original painting because I wanted something unique and special in the family. We spent $1,000 between the two of us and bought a beautiful watercolor by David Yeh, a Detriot-area artist.

Currently the art in my apartment exists of my friend's black&white photos. I would like to link to his website because they are really good. For years he took concert photos around Seattle but I actually like his candid shots better. Just weird or interesting images or people. Plus I have another photo from another friend of Courtney Love playing a Christmas time concert (I think 1999). What can I say? It's Courtney and it's a really nice photo of her playing. I also have two badly framed Rolling Stones magazines, one with Courtney & Hole on the cover and the other is Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. NOT his first cover with the iconic "Corporate Magazines Still Suck" shirt (I want that cover) but his second one where he's wearing a suit. I found the magazines in a used bookstore in Seattle one day and framed them.

In my apartment I also have three Tim Wistrom prints as well as a framed Seattle Weekly cover with a detail of a Tim Wistrom painting. Wistrom paints nature landscapes, mostly of the Pacific Northwest but with a sci-fi-ish twist of either cities with a second-Ice Age or global warming. I just like the concept of nature reclaiming the cities images, although I do wonder what happened to the people?

Of course I also have the (now framed) Torani posters. I also have a steamer trunk that serves as a coffee table. I shellacked the top and covered it with multiple kinds of tarot cards. It actually looks really cool, one of the few art projects I worked on that came out well.

I keep looking over at Urban Outfitters to tell me how to make up my apartment. As if I can fix my life by buying a $100 shag rug. I don't know why I always fall into the trap of thinking that buying material things is going to "fix" my life. Make me cooler or happier. Frankly no one ever comes over here anyway.

There has to be some kind of connection between my materializing (ie, buying things will make me happy, looking cool will make me happy, buying things will make cool) and my actual lack of "coolness" because I'm going about it the wrong way.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Food advertising as art: Torani Posters

I suppose in a way this keeps with my blog's theme about "food" since this is essentially a post about food art since I've become obsessed with these old Torani Italian Syrup advertising posters lately.

You may have seen these posters before. They were pretty ubiquitous back in the late 1990s when Torani ran an ad campaign that played off old pulp fiction images. You can see tiny jpgs of their entire campaign here. Their website even had a "compose a Noir story using Torani syrup" contest where I believe each month the winner got a case of their syrup.

Anyway, around 1999 I ordered a set of the posters from Torani’s website and received four of them. Then maybe three years ago, I wrote an e-mail to Torani asking if they had any more of the posters from the old campaign (which they had long since stopped using) and some anonymous kind soul sent me the Soda 2000 poster.

But that still leaves me bereft of this one final poster which you can see here, Chocolate Fugitive. Until recently I wasn't even certain how many posters Torani had produced for the campaign. I owned five, and I remembered seeing Chocolate Fugitive hanging on the wall of a Seattle coffee shop/newstand called Bulldog News. I think I was tempted to ask for it, even back before I started collecting them. However after a little digging I realized there were only six posters produced: Soda 2000, Chocolate Fugitive, Soda Jerk, This Java's Jumping, Seduced by Flavor, and Sweet Nothings.

I got the above jpg only recently when in a random search for the old Torani posters I stumbled across this article in the Madison Avenue Journal written by Kurt Brokaw. It was the first good look at Chocolate Fugitive I’d seen in a while, (as well as a nice run down of the Noir aesthetic) and I e-mailed the author to ask about the image...basically where did it come from?

Here’s what he wrote me back:

I clipped the Torani ad from a magazine maybe five-six years ago....I'm pretty sure Torani borrowed the woman/car scenario from some 50s crime paperback, probably a [paperback] original from a minor imprint. I don't recognize the art from any well known crime/noir novel, and I know this material pretty well. Maybe Torani got the rights and thus the publisher/illustrator info, maybe not.

What Kurt Brokaw wrote fits with the little bits of information I managed to glean from the advertising agency that ran the campaign Gardner, Geary, Coll & Young (now known as Maiden Lane) that they used real pulp fiction covers and then clearly just altered the images. Perhaps the cover rights expired which is why GGC&Y was able to use them. Or maybe they just purchased them outright since I doubt Torani would have approved an advertising campaign if the ownership of the copyrights was questionable.

It may seem weird to hang posters for coffee syrups on your wall as “art” but in a way it reminds me of those fairly famous French alcohol ads from the 1920 you see hanging everywhere , including Trading Spaces episode.

So if anyone sees this Chocolate Fugitive let me know because I would love to have a complete collection.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Long lost cousin edition

I have a pretty unique family name. It's not hard to spell or even unusual, but I've always been under the impression that pretty much the only people in the United States who have my last name are related to me. The reason for this is because my paternal grandfather, and his two brothers, all changed their name at the same time in the 1930s. They basically "Americanized" their names. So while it's easy to spell and pronounce, it's also unique because it's made-up. I always thought it was curious that you have these three brothers sort of keep the bloodline obvious by all of them changing their names. Ironically however the family last name has pretty much only been passed on by my grandfather and his children. His brothers ended up having girls or boys who died too early to have kids.

I have a first cousin who had a My Space webpage and today she was contacted by another girl who ironically had the exact same last name and first name. The girl was eager to figure out if they were related because, like me, she assumed pretty much the only people with our last names were related to us.

My Aunt Annie figured it all out. The girl's grandfather is my grandfather's first cousin. We're third cousins and our parents (the girl's father and my aunt, plus my father) are second cousins. Apparently, unknown to most of the living members of my family, while my grandfather and his brothers all changed their names in the 1930s, his first cousin also changed his name, albeit not until the 1950s.

I still find that fascinating. Changing a family name is kind of a huge step. Sure we're Jews (and no, our name isn't and wasn't something like Goldberg or Silver) but the last name thing still means something. I find it odd that here's this guy, and he has a last name. Yet for some reason when he was in his 20s or so decided to change his name to the same name as his cousins, who had done this 20 years before.

Unfortunately this girl's grandfather passed away some time ago (the one who changed his name) but her father is around and apparently as interested in this as my aunt and my father are. My aunt gets really into family genealogy because my grandfather/her father passed away when she was 15 years old.

He was the only grandparent I never met, although I'm sad to say I just found out my last grandmother (maternal) has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I'm not ready to deal with that yet. But over the years I've thought a bit about this "missing" grandparent a lot. I'm far more like my Dad than my Mom and I've wondered how much he was like his Dad. (I didn't really get along with my paternal grandmother all that much. Kind of your typical old Long Island Jewish woman.) I've often thought about how much I rely on my father still, for advice, for money, for conversation and I'm 30! I can't imagine losing his company when I was 22 or 15.

I've often thought my aunt has a little "daddy-shaped" hole in her heart where she lost hers so young even though she's in her late 50s now. I was even chatting with my Dad on the phone about all these long-dead (or missing) relatives and he started getting emotional (which he rarely does).

So anyway, there's at least one other set of people out there with my last name aside from the the people who are all related through my grandfather. This long-lost cousin--the first cousin of my grandfather-- apparently had two children, a boy and a girl (I think, I know he at least had a boy). That boy, my grandfather's first cousin-once removed, also has two kids. The girl is the one who contacted my cousin with the My Space page and she has an older brother. That guy, along with my brother and my cousin, are the only "males" of the next generation with that same last name (my brother, my uncle's kid, and this new long-lost third cousin). My brother is the only one of those three males who's married. The other two are in their mid-to-early 20s AND my brother does have one child, a 2-month old girl. I think this new niece of mine is the first of the new generation in the same family name in 17 years. But she's a girl so she really can't "pass on" the family name beyond her (of course, she's TWO MONTHS OLD, she can't even hold her head up.)

I was thinking how interesting it would be, one more generation out, and there could be an entirely new branch of the family that is unaware of "the others" with the same last names. I'm sure if my cousin, my uncle's kid, gets married I'll come to his wedding and when he has kids I'll be "aware" of it in that vague way you keep track of first cousins. But I bet before this guy hits 50 I will lose track of him entirely; basically after both our parents are dead. There are cousins I'm closer to, and with e-mail it's a little easier to stay in touch, but as the family spreads across the map if you aren't seeing these cousins regularly. If you aren't "growing up" with them or hanging out together the imperative to stay in touch basically goes away after your parents/aunt/uncle die. They become just people.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Eat your face: A Food balm collage

I was at the mall today and I was a inspired either to collect or create depending on your definition of 'art'. I think the inspiration mostly came from looking at these creations. I was at Claire's Boutique and I noticed the Peeps-flavored lip balm first. I thought about buying it and then I decided I had to collect them all because they were just so bizarre! Popcorn flavored lip balm? Not just popcorn but "Pop Secret" flavored. Is there a difference between Soft Batch chocolate chip cookies and Rainbow Chip cookies? What *is* Vienna Fingers Cookie flavor?

I spent $37 buying the 15 lip balms but I didn't get anywhere close to all of them. They not only had Pepsi flavored, but Pepsi w/ lemon and Vanilla Pepsi! (Vetoed as too difficult to photograph because of the shiny package). Plus Moutain Dew and Muggs Rootbeer lip balms. There were Nerds and Sweettarts flavored lip balms that actually came with candy (Vetoed as too large a package).

I have to admit, I'm curious to try them, but I sense that these are going to be great collector's items one day, if only for the novelty value.

Why "Eat Your Face Off?" It occurred to me when I was in the store looking at them. There's something a little bizarre, if you think about it, about having food flavoring smeared all over your face. It doesn't just stop with lip balm these days. Urban Decay makes an edible body powder that they somehow manage not to mention in their advertising to that it should be used for sex. Since Urban Decay's market is mostly 14-year-old runaways (or those who just want to look like one) having them make a defacto "sex product" is even weirder.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Blogging = writing?

One time I asked Dave Neiwert at Orcinus about whether I should make my blog “legit” and try to be a topic-specific blogger. Neiwert inspired the question because he wrote this post where he mentions he’s going to start talking about other topics besides right-wing media, Michelle Malkin and the Minute Men movement (at least that’s what I perceive his blog coverage mostly to be about). Neiwert was kind enough to respond and say that part of reason to blog is just to work on our writing skills.

I’ve wondered about that however because I often feel like when I write a blog posting it’s my laziest writing ever. I don’t think about an “audience” and I rarely try to focus my thoughts or organize them into a better structure. If you read my actual paper-version diary (which you’re not gonna) you would notice that my blog postings are written in much the same style my diary entries are. (Which is suffering these days because with the blog I don’t find as much need to write in my diary).

Back when I was still doing journalism internships for a now-defunct music magazine in Seattle, the editor asked me if I was writing in a journal every day just for “practice.” I saw his point, that for some people writing is so difficult that they need to keep “in practice” by journaling. But I’ve never been one of those people. I don’t have problems putting words on the page…I have problems making them interesting or just organizing longer thoughts into a complete story.

That’s partly why I started this blog (or rather re-started it) was that I wanted to talk about my Weight Watchers diet. I used to compose these long e-mails to friends that discussed tiny minutia of my life. I notice that I rarely get those kinds of e-mails back from them and I started worrying I was basically boring my friends with stuff they didn’t need to know. Hence, the blog where reading what I write is voluntary. I have no deadlines but no real structure either (also no readers).

However the downside to all this creative freedom, is that I feel like I’ve taken no consideration to structure my posts into coherence or interest. I still feel like this is the most lazy of lazy writing.

There is an upside to this kind of freedom, I have found something that I thought I lost. I actually enjoy writing again.

It’s strange. I used to be a reporter and I clearly recall a coworker, someone in her first reporter’s position, exclaiming to me “don’t you find it’s it just so cool we have a job where we get paid to write!”

I completely did not feel that way. As a reporter I stopped loving writing a long time ago. It felt like pulling teeth to write stories. I would just and most times I just gave up trying to make them the least little bit interesting. It was a tiny bit better when I was in charge of a weekly newspaper for a year. I got the chance to pretty much write whatever I wanted; columns, editorials, news stories, although I still had to keep to a kind of weekly newspaper formula. It was almost too much freedom. It was so heady I didn’t realize how good I had it until it was gone. As a regular joe (jane?) reporter for a nothing-daily newspaper in Ohio, I had to come up with exciting prose about the weekly County Commissioners’ meeting and I just couldn’t do it and mostly didn’t even try. I wrote the blandest, driest shit you ever saw. About everything. I always tell people it was the story about the Mayor’s prayer breakfast was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I’m Jewish but also mostly agnostic. If anything I despised public displays of “official” piety. The newspaper bought a table at this breakfast and my managing editor was sitting write next to me during the entire event. He could have written the damned story. I deliberately turned in the most threadbare story I possibly could (it was an annual event, pretty much exactly the same thing said every year).

That was kind of it. I realized this was what reporting was going to be like for me for probably 20 years and if I was good I would get to maybe be a columnist by the time I was 40. I would never really like the stories I was writing. Writing stories about things I didn’t care about was like giving away little pieces of my soul. I don’t think I can adequately explain it but I’d rather do boring work than boring journalism. I actually quake a little inside when I think about going back to doing that kind of writing jobs and probably why I’m so picky about the kind of communications jobs I apply for. I really want to care about what I’m pitching.

That’s what I kind of hated about journalism was that it killed my interest not only in writing, but in being a good story-teller. I felt like I was phoning it in for probably more than half of all the stories I wrote. My creative brain probably atrophied.

So that’s why I was really amused by my little adventure with drugs this weekend. It may be a naturally funny story, but how you tell it that makes it interesting. I wrote this mea culpa on Craiglist for that guy. Sure I feel guilty about it, but it was also my way of sharing the “story” to the craigslist world.

And here’s the thing. I’ve gotten some e-mails from people reading my posting. One guy says I seemed “witty.” I can’t tell you how much that perked me up that I, Newscat, can write an amusing anecdote to keep someone’s attention.

Maybe Ornicus is right about this whole “practice” thing.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

My new friend, Flickr

Every once in a while I get just *obsessed* about making things look good. For a while I was acting that about about downloading furniture objects for The Sims. I would just get obsessed about making rooms in my faux houses look perfect with matching furniture. It was crazy. I don't know how much I spent in subscription fees to Well-Dressed Sim, Sim Freaks and 8thdeadlySim. Even though I've bought Sims 2, and two expansion packs, I haven't bought the third and I'm trying to give up the game. It's just not that fun. It reminds me how when I had a box full of My Little Ponies all I would do half the time was brush their hair and "set them up" to be played with (which of course all they would do is fall over again).

Yesterday was one of those days. I finally took some decent photos of my apartment. I kept wanting to take shots of the place when it was a) clean, b) sunny out. Not just daytime, but actually sunny. I've looked at many a apartment photo and I can tell you I've dismissed places based on the digital pictures for merely looking odd. Even though I can tell that digital cameras shot by amatures just don't make for pictures worthy of Home & Garden.

So now that I had the photos I just drove myself crazy trying to find a site to host them where they would actually look good. I know craigslist allows you to host up to four pictures but I have 16 to show!

And I know there are plenty of free sites, not to mention Geocities and other free websites. But it seemed like every time I started downloading the pictures I would quickly run out of space after five, and/or the photos would all be kind of small.

I had found Flickr, which DOES allow for pretty good picture hosting but, here was my mistake, I didn't realize that they have a limit on how much you can upload a month. Not just host, but upload! I burned through my limit by constantly uploading and then deleting photos, trying to see which ones looked good. Waste of bandwidth space. Totally stupid on my part.

After messing with this project for about 3 hours (skipping dinner. I had even cooked some chicken and quickly forgot about it. Which is fine, I just save it for later meals), I got obsessed with making the images come out the way I want them to look so I finally shelled out the $25 for premium membership. Which I can just hear my computer-savvy friend telling me that it was stupid with all the "free" services out there.

But you know, if I look at the $25 as the cost of running a newspaper ad to advertise the apartment its really not an unreasonable expense. Plus now I get the service for a year. I *do* think it'll make a difference in the apartment search, weeding out people who aren't interested and helping stroke interest in others. I showed my place to at least 30 people last time. It was kind of exhausting and I'm just getting started with it. It's sort of the wrong month for this (September is probably the best time to look for a roommate), but I've got at least 10 people so far I'm showing the place to. (Although figure at least a 10% drop out rate).

Anyway I'm kind of loving Flickr. Another cool feature I didn't even think about is the fact Flickr shows you how many "views" a picture has. So I can sort of gauge how many people have been looking at my photos. A few times were probably me, and one never knows if one person looked at something a couple of times. Most views were for the room shot and a "sweeping" view of the living room, 18 views both. Interestingly I notice that my "floorplan with furniture" sketch got 13 views but the regular floorplan only got five. I just used Photoshop to sketch-in where the furniture would be on the floorplan. It's really crude and it was mostly a joke.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

More craigslist scammer spam

I really don't understand the point of these. I know that somehow people sending you a fraudlent cashier's check allows them something, but how it works I don't really know. Odd as it is I think the better scammers are the ones that don't put the whole pitch in the very first e-mail. I think I've gotten a couple of others that were more borderline fishing expeditions.

I don't know why this both amuses and annoyes me. It's not like no one's gotten these scam e-mails before. I think it's more about the expansion of the scam into something like roommate ads.

By the way...I love that this one just says "hello owner" and her name e-mail is "honesty jenny." It could be a like some really good piece of satire except that it's real.

HELLO OWNER, My name is JENNY JOHN,am from NEW YORK,and will like to relocate, if is not even from NEW YORK and have been living there my whole life,my mum and dad are both from there,i live in chico in my
childhood life and later moved to oxnard where i stayed with my elders sister. A m a model by occupation and i mostly model cloths and other things like shoes and more,i have been modeling ever since i was 16 years but that was localy but now i model all over the state and sometimes move out of the country to model too. i am curectly in west africa ,nigeria to be precise ,and am there for my contract,modeling for issey miyake,is just a month contract,but i wont love to go back to my sister house when geting back to the state cus she is about preparing to get married to her husband ,so cus of this i will like to have my own room. i registered for roommate and i saw you advertising your room, that there is vacant there,i will love to know if the room can be given to me cus i will love to come there directly to stay when coming back to the state. About the payment that is not a problem I WILL tell MY LAST BOSS WHO I MODELLED FOR WHEN I WAS IN THE STATE TO SEND YOU A CHECK OF MY LAST PAYMENT WISH HE IS OWING ME SO THAT THE ROOM CAN BE KEPT FOR ME.AND YOU SEND ME THE REMAINING CHANGE SO THAT I CAN USE IT TO BOOK FOR MY
FLIGHT TICKET BACK TO THE STATE. I will be glad if you simply reply
me to my mail box. which is
honesty_jenny@yahoo.com I will be so glad to rent your room and ,am sure you will be so glad to have someone like me cus i am a very kool and easy going person,am looking forward
for your reply YOURS

The new craigslist scam...on rent

Interesting. I just got a couple of e-mails from women in the U.K. saying they would love to become my roommate. One said she was a model. Here's the first e-mail she sent.

Hello, I am interested in renting your room. Here is a little info about myself. I am Donna and i am 29 years old.Am a Canadian but at present i'm in England,but I'lll be coming over to The United States in a couple of weeks. Consequent to this and in order to make settling in much easier and quicker i am searching for an accomodation early and i saw your ad on the
site and i want to make reservations for your apartment. I can assure you that you will not have any regrets letting out this apartment to me & having me as a room mate.I am an introvert by nature & i get along much easily with most people.I will be coming over alone,with no family or pets. I do not smoke and i drink very lightly. My reason for moving is because i have three job offers which i am undecided which to choose & the pay is very good. I'm a model and just got some new contracts and dont intend to spend more than 1-2 months in America. Please reply me as soon as you read this email.I ll be waiting to hear from you. Kindly contact me via email. Also if you have a yahoo messenger you could add me.My yahoo id is donnagill_1 and email is
donnagill_1@yahoo.com so you could add me.Or call me +447024076192Thank you once more Yours sincerly Donna

I admit I was curious but it was like she hadn't really read my craigslist posting because I say in ALL CAPS "this if for MAY MOVE-IN." So I wrote "her" back saying "hey this is for May only, like I said, and it's a year lease, not just a few months."

This is verbatem the e-mail sent back.

Hello XXX (My name),
Thanks for your reply & agreeing to share room with me, I intend to move to the states in April 1st.I am willing to pay the $800 rental. Well i'll need your favour on something which would also serve as my means of payment. My Boss owes me some funds and i told him that i've secured a room ,he agreed to pay up and said he'll inform his partner in Canada to send a cashiers check to you. Send me your full names, address and phone number to send the payment get across to you. Once you receive it, kindly take them to your bank & have them cashed. From this you can deduct the total amount for the room & in due course of time i will forwardto you my name & address to have some of the balance sent back to me. With this i will be able to buy my ticket & pay for freight fee that will be bringing my things over. The remaining i will pick up when i arrive. I wont be bringing much over as i intend to buy most afresh there. But my PC will be coming with me surely & other personal belongings.Thank you so very much for understanding and the opportunity given me to be your roommate.
i hope to hear from you soon.
Yours with all sincerity

Um...yeah. Okay. Fool me once on these things. I've placed my guitar up for sale on craiglist a lot (no one ever buys it) and every time I do you get those people who always send those really poorly written e-mails "Hi I will pay you for it. Im dealer in UK. Send cashiers check with expenses." If you haven't heard of these scams it's totally phoney. Right up there with the perenially Nigerian looting-the-country e-mail.

I just had no idea people were now trying to do it with RENT. I mean, unlike a seller selling an object where at least they expect to be paid, trying to get someone to mail you money so that they can become your roommate is even weaker. Why not just come out and say "I'm a Russian in the Ukraine and I need money because my economy is piss-poor. I could make a huge song and dance about pretending to be an African looting Nigeria or a Canadian model or I could just ask you to send me $500 American dollars. What do you say?"

While I'm sure people fell for the selling-things scam at first (or once in a great while) who in their right mind just sends money to a stranger who is then supposidly going to live with them? I guess it costs nothing to try but wouldn't it be better to put effort into cultivating this scam? The e-mail was written like he never read my ad, which I'm sure the scammer on the end didn't.

Then a few minutes later I got another e-mail that seemed like a pitch for the first. Of course it could be legitmate but again, notice she says she need to move in RIGHT AWAY even though I spell out it's a May move-in, and then says she only wants to stay for 7 months although I clearly say it's a year lease. My guess is that if I respond I'll get another one of those "oh and can you mail me airfare first. I will totally pay you back."

Hi, I saw your profile and I want to be your roommate.I am Rose Becca 31.I work in the UK for a footwear manufacturing company, I will be moving to the US to work on some project. How much is both the deposit and the first month rent I need to pay before I can move in? I want this space very urgent atleast before 28th of March. and I will like us to conclude soon so I can move in my things, I will be staying for 7 months, depending on how the 1st 5 months go. I will be moving to the US alone in the meantime, my family will not be moving in with me.Thanks, I awaits the price list of the deposits and and first month

UPDATE: So far this is pretty much my most popular blog posting. I posted one other example of this scam as well before I gave up. I think I got about 5-7 of these scammer e-mails when advertising my apartment. Although, it's possible at least one or two had been legit, they were just bruque people. Not all of them were as crudely written as the some. I too wrote back a highly moralizing e-mail to the first scammer about how theft is no way to earn a living, even if you are poor. I used to do that to the people who wrote who wanted to "buy" my guitar, but after a while you get tired of it. It's like shouting into a void. I don't know why these e-mails make me so sad about the human race. I guess it seems so personal yet impersonal. There's a human being at the end of that badly composed piece of writing. I do wonder a lot who that human being is and what his life is like?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Long live the messy roommate!

Heh. I've been getting some good responses to this craigslist manifesto I posted about wanting a a messy roommate (not a clean one).

Yes you read that right. I want a messy roommate, not a clean people. I'm one of those people who has a two-bedroom, and I notice that EVERY SINGLE RESPONDENT says something along the lines of "I'm clean but not a neat freak." Or "I like cleanliness but I'm not anal about it." (and yes, anal is usually the word they use). Is there really only two ways to be, a "neat freak" or a total pig?

Here's the thing, I'm *always* the messier of the roommates I live with. I'm not a total pig but yes, dishes sit in the sink for a few day but don't stack up. On average I'd say there's about 3-4 plates in the sink at any given moment. I'm good at taking out the garbage but not wiping down the counter. I don't leave plates out with food on them, but I've had cups sitting on my coffee table overnight.

I've never had a fight with my past two roommates at all about cleaning. If they asked me to specifically do something I would do it and not argue. But I never know how to present my level of being accepting of messes to others. I just can't keep a place spick'n'span all the time forever. A lot of my stuff ends up in the common area whereas my roommate's doesn't. I'd be fine if they left their jackets or shoes or books floating around in the living room. It really doesn't bother me. With only two people I don't feel it's as necessary to keep everything orderly the way that it is with 3 or 4 roommates.

Since I'm a girl does this mean I have to live with a guy to reach some happy level of dirt? Frankly I think it would be good for me to live with someone who admits they're not so concerned about such things and then I can *really* learn what's my level of cleanliness.

To clarify, I didn't meant to criticize people who say they are clean but not "anal" about it. I just thought it was interesting that over and over again you hear the same descriptive words, "anal" and "freak." We all know there are some people who would freak out to see my sneakers in the living room or a few dishes in the sink for a few days. But I do wonder how those people describe themselves? They also say they're not neat "freaks" who are anal about it. They probably think they just like things picked up and tidy.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Chair envy

I don't think I've ever mentioned that to join Weight Watchers I had to give up buying this chair with my birthday money. I've wanted to one just one of these chairs for two years now.

I have one kitchen chair, which is rickety, after my last roommate moved out and took the chairs she painted. This chair is like a butt-pedestral. The fact I have not had $80 to scrape together for two years means I am very, very sad.

The True Story of the Howard Dean Metrosexual quote:

This is the story, if you google “Howard Dean” and Metrosexual you’ll end up getting quite a few hits. Maybe some people remember this week-long story dating from October 29, 2003. Howard Dean had been running high all summer but towards the end and into the fall there started to be a pile on of bad stories about him. I still think a lot of these were non-gaffe “gaffes” that were blown up because the official story was now “take-down” by both Republicans and the other Democratic hopefuls. Dean simply peaked too soon. (I say this without ever being a real Dean sign-on. One the things about running for president is you have to learn how to handle campaign messaging. If you can’t handle the press or your opponents in the primary, you’re not going to be able to handle them in the general.)

Anyway here’s the only national scoop I ever had before anyone else and how I didn’t use it. The Denver Post was the paper that originated the story. They have expensive archives so I can’t link to the original but many other websites repeated the story in its entirety.

Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean tried to be all things, except George W. Bush, to all voters on fundraising stops in Boulder and Denver on Tuesday.

The pack-leading Democrat hit all the marks, courting fiscal conservatives and social liberals. He bashed the war and pumped up his plans for universal heath care, renewable energy and investments in schools, highways and broadband Internet for everyone.

Dean declared himself a "metrosexual," the buzz phrase for straight men in touch with their feminine sides, as he touted his accomplishments in "equal justice" for gay and lesbian couples.

But then he waffled.

"I'm a square," Dean declared, after professing his metrosexuality to a Boulder breakfast audience with an anecdote about being called handsome by a gay man. "I like (rapper) Wyclef Jean and everybody thinks I'm very hip, but I am really a square, as my kids will tell you. I don't even get to watch television. I've heard the term (metrosexual), but I don't know what it means."

At a luncheon in Denver, Dean surged past the issues and got down to more immediate business, spelling out the main reason for his fourth Colorado visit in the past year.

"This is all about raising money to beat George W. Bush," he told a full ballroom at the Oxford Hotel.

Now being a former reporter (I was in grad school at the time) I noticed something a little funny about this story. The big news is that Dean calls himself a metrosexual but there’s no actual quote where he says it. The reporter paraphrases it. I thought for such a juicy revelation it was rather odd not to have the real quotation. So I tracked down the actual reporter who was there (The Denver Post has their e-mail addresses so its easy to do so) I wrote a fairly short letter…”hey did Dean really say he was a Metrosexual? What’s the actual quote?”

The reporter wrote back to me that “yes” he did say it and that he had transcribed the whole speech, which actually sent it to me.

But here’s the thing. I don’t believe his paraphrase; “Dean declared himself a ‘metrosexual’… and then waffled” was accurate. I wish I had the actual transcript to show everyone. All of this went to University e-mail account that is now closed and I never thought to save these e-mails before the account was closed.
The actual quote was something like “People say I’m a metrosexual…I don’t really know what that means.” It might have even been more like “this guy who said I was handsome called me a metrosexual, which I don’t know what that means.” There was definitely no declarative statement as in “I, Howard Dean, say I am a metrosexual.” He used the word, for certain, but as I pointed out to the reporter…do you really think he actually did know what it meant? The reporter agreed with me. Howard Dean probably didn’t have the foggiest clue what Metrosexual meant, but the reporter still nailed him for “pandering” to the crowd by using a word like that.

I hate that term, “pandering” in relation to politics. It’s a word meant to give negative connotations to a fairly natural habit in speechmaking. How much speech is pandering and how much is just good old fashioned showmanship? If a band comes out on stage and says “We’re happy to be here in Cleveland!” does that mean they are “pandering” to the crowd? Or are they supposed to say “Well we’re here in Cleveland which is our 142nd city and we’d really rather be at home with our girlfriends, but here’s our set tonight!”

That would get the crowd moving.

So Dean, who had a natural constituency in gays and lesbians, in a friendly luncheons name-checks a term he’s heard and he’s supposed to be slammed for it? (By the way, raise your had if you actually think Howard Dean is a metrosexual or that he thought he was a metrosexual, a term he admitted he didn’t know what it meant!)
Even if you believe that “pander” is the correct term that should be used to describe Dean’s speech at a friendly fund-raising luncheon…for the reporter to use the loaded word “waffle,” I think is even harsher. Waffle is a very negative term to use in political descriptions; this was even before “flip flop” took over.

The reporter and I went back and forth a few e-mails about this situation and it ended with him not admitting he was wrong but saying I’d make a good spinner. It was about as much of an admission that he was potentially wrong as you are likely to get. That maybe, someone could possibly honestly interpret the situation differently.

The thing is, being a reporter I know exactly why he wrote the story as he did. Covering speeches and luncheons is pretty boring. Everything is fairly canned and, if I may say so, staged. It’s like writing a story about a birthday party “Good time was had by all.” You start looking for disaster like someone lighting the table on fire. (Other story I hate writing, “man-on-the-street” quotes. So pointless.)

So if you have a presidential frontrunner use a buzzword, it’s probably (to the reporter anyway) the most “interesting” thing that happened during the event. Remember that is the reporter’s perspective of what’s interesting at, for him, a naturally boring event. He’s not really the intended audience for these events which are meant for supporters. But the thing about not using the quote as it was…again, I’ve been there. Sometimes you wish people would speak in perfect quotedom. I remember Ken Auletta interviewing Jon Stewart and they played a clip of The Daily Show with a bunch of Dick Cheney lies. And Auletta asked why he didn’t play one where Cheney blames Saddam Hussien for 9/11 and Stewart said that basically the times Cheney made an allusion to this theory, it ran into a 10 minute long speech where it was only suggested but not directly said. So, essentially, it wasn’t quotable but you could paraphrase it.

This metrosexual quote was also probably pretty good for the reporter. It got picked up nationally and became a one-week story which was along the lines of “look, another gaffe made by Dean.” You know, if this is a gaffe, calling or referencing a term like Metrosexual, I wonder what you would call something like what Trent Lott said at Strom Thurmond’s birthday party? One is truly an offensive statement (which was later revealed to have been repeated a lot in Lott’s political life). The other is something, at worst, kind of silly but certainly doesn’t offend anyone.

Anyway I think of this as the one-that-got-away because back in early November 2003 I wasn’t really into reading blogs (it’s a habit I picked up more in 2004 and 2005). If I had I would have tipped off Daily Kos or someone and tried to get the story going. Or written it up myself and gotten some attention. But what I did was try to pass the tip onto Slate’s Jack Schafer and the Washington Post’s Howard Kurtz, both of which did nothing with it. (Schafer wrote me back that he thought he had seen already seen an explanation of the quote, but didn’t write about it himself or link that to me. I’ve never seen such an expose myself and to this day people will still occasionally rhetorically link “Howard Dean” and “metrosexual” as a gaffe of his. Like that stupid Al Gore internet myth quote.

Again, I agree this would be all the more impressive if I still had the actual transcript the reporter sent me. But the benefit of being a blogger and not a reporter is that I’m free to write about this as an anecdote but not as a news story.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Radio misogyny II

It's coincidental that after I wrote this post there was an article in the Washington Post's sunday magazine about shock jocks. It's written by a guy, Tyler Currier, but I think he kind of has the shock jock's number when it comes to misogyny and racism. These particular DJs are basically pumped up pretend frat boys but the reality is they're men in their late 30s/early 40s who are married and have kids. I've wondered how Adam Corrolla's wife deal with his statements about her and women and this article mentions a similiar issue with the guys' wives. They're auditioning "Junkettes," think Hooters girls, only probably unpaid, to stand around and do promotions for them. And they're, of course, really classy in handling the situation.

E.B. ogles a passing woman, one of seven who have arrived in skimpy duds at a Fairfax bar. "She's got nice boobies," he mutters.

Then there's this passage about the day following the audition where one of the guy's start talking about his wife on the air. Reporter's words are emphasized.
That night Cakes goes home and tells Amy that he danced with hot young women. He knows it'll be a subject on tomorrow's show. "It's called a preemptive strike," he later explains. "Even though it was nothing, it was innocent, I wanted it out there so that it didn't get blown into something out of proportion."

Still, Amy is livid: "I didn't think it was very funny. Any woman who loves her husband would be jealous if her husband comes home and says he's been at a bar dancing with other women."

As predicted, the next day the other Junkies relive Cakes's onstage bumping and grinding. Cakes tells the others he's in trouble with Amy. You just bought her an $80,000 kitchen, E.B. points out, making her sound like a gold digger.

Amy, who happens to be listening to the show, angrily reaches for the phone to set the record straight. "When I married John he was managing Toys R Us," she remembers saying on the air. "If I was materialistic, I never would have married him in the first place."

The Junkies laugh and tell Amy to take it easy. As E.B. often says: "This is all in a spirit of fun."
You notice a lot of this talk on radio. Think of it as the Tony Soprano-bargin. You get a nice house, vacations, cars, jewelry, whatever and in the meantime you're supposed to turn a blind eye to whatever I'm doing with other women.

I notice one method to radio misogny is to always talk harshly about "women's" foolish behavior, but to be laughingly accepting of men's foolish behavior, as if men's idiosyncrasies are amusing behaviors that are to be gently tolerated while women's idiosyncrasies are merely annoying habits that should be eliminated. You'll see this whenever radio hosts go into "Women do this" routines and notice the tone of voice they use for that description compared to the "Men do this" half which follows up. Also notice how many times a variation on the phrase "women do this" comes up on the show.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean update

I added two more reviews: Dirt and Bacon. Ten minute later I can still "taste" them both. Eww...

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Saturday, February 25, 2006

Radio: the last bastion of open misogyny

Dating all the way back to my very first post, I'm fairly obsessed with radio and Adam Corrolla in particular. Now Adam isn't on Loveline anymore, he's got his new West Coast morning radio show that took over Howard Stern spot on the dial. I actually downloaded an episode once because Jeff Probst was going to be on and I always find he's inadvertently revealing about himself and the Survivor show. He reveals a lot more about himself than I think he knows.

Valentine's Day wasn't too long ago, and in sort of a coincidence I was also listening to some old Loveline episodes from close to Valentine's Day 2004. Adam Corrolla was just working himself into a lather about women. If you listen to him talk about women in general, but his wife in particular, you do really wonder if he thinks so little of her why'd he ever get married? There's not a single thing about her he has ever found complimentary to say on-the-air. He doesn't really even mention how smoking-hot she is for a guy like him. He says over and over again that all he really wants from women/his wife is for her to have sex with him and then to completely leave him alone. Not even really to talk to him. She's just a body essentially. There's basically no knock against women that Adam doesn't make. That they're stupid. That they only care about unimportant things. That they demand too much of their boyfriends. That women can't really make themselves "look" much better to the opposite sex but men, by earning more money or getting a better job can. That anytime a women does something from painting her nails to buying sexy underware, it's really just for men but usually men-don't-care-about-it so women should just stop. If your are an "ugly" woman it doesn't matter if you are confident or not, you're still unattractive. And while Adam does occassionally talk positively about women having accomplishments like earning degrees, because he judges a woman's value in her sexual attractiveness he kind of makes it all seem like "well why bother, having a J.D. isn't going to land you a man? Sure you can do it for yourself and that's great, but let's be real here, men don't care if you have a bunch of degrees. In fact it's worse for your chances if you do." To Adam there's no concept of women doing things for themselves. Occassionally he says women do things to show off for other women (such as painting one's nails or having a big wedding) which is almost a worse crime than showing off for men about things they don't care about.

When my two oldest friends came to visit me from out of town they pointed out how I had subtly or not-so-subtly started parroting some of Adam's points back to them. I was amazed how much I internalized his logic. Mostly about the male perspective on women and how they view potential mates. I tend to listen to old episodes of the show for about 4-5 hours a day and while I'm fully cognizant about the powerful persuasive effects of radio I just assumed that because I'm highly-educated and fully aware of its power I would be immune. But that kind of constant indocturinization is hard to constantly put a wall up against, especially when its self-inflicted. And that's magic of radio's effect. It really is like the supposed hypodermic needle theory of media effects, it's just not always so immediate.

One of the best put-downs my friend said to me about adam was "why would you want to take gynecological advice from a frat boy?" Good point.

Anyways it occured to me how much Adam isn't really a unique product of radio. Radio really is the last bastion for open misogyny in a way you rarely see in print publications and hardly as openly in television. It's not that TV can't be misogynistic. Oh, it can be. But when TV is misogynistic it's rarely as open has having a host of a program say things like women are as dumb as cows.

In radio there's the really big hosts like Tom Leykis or the appropriately named Mancow, even the aforemention Howard Stern who is far more respectful to male guests than female guests. Way back in 1998 I even worked for a very low-rent morning DJ called Andy Savage. This guy was just a total pig and completely unpleasant off-the-air. The Seattle Weekly even had a cover story where they had Andy's head going through a woman's legs. I remember it being a different looking cover than this one. I thought it was like her breasts were just about to rest on top of his head, but maybe my memory is off.

Anyway my point is why is radio the one special media forum where men get to act like pigs? And why is meaness better tolerated on the radio than in TV? A few people were talking about the difference between Adam Corrolla's radio schtick and his TV schtick in this thread and why his meaness simply works better off-camera. I don't really have an answer yet. But I'm always reminded of the fact that in Rwanda, it was radio broadcasts that were used to stir up the hatred for one's neighbors more than any other method of propaganda. There's something to that to ponder why radio worked its magic so well on human psyches, rather than TV.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Another candy review: Razzles

So ignore the angstiness of the last post. I was reading some of the other candy bloggers and I remembered I really wanted to talk about those Razzles I bought on the same trip to World Market. If you've watched that Jennifer Gardner vehicle 13 Going on 30 you know that the candy Razzles becomes a major plot point. Or minor. Or whatever because its mentioned about 500 times in the course of the movie and they could have literally inserted dialogue that said "I really long for [1980s candy] my 30-year-old Love Interest," "Yes, I remember when as 13 year olds we used to eat [1980s candy] together all the time. So why was I so fat but you were you so skinny?" I'm basically the same age as the character in the movie, but I don't remember Razzles all that much. I'm not sure I had even tried them as a kid although the name rings a bell. (Perhaps because it's just a great candy name?)

Since the movie went on and on about this particular candy I got interested in trying it. Also, I really love gum. But it was kind of surprising because I didn't see Razzles sold in that many places but when I did, it was kind of over priced. Like $1.75 each, overpriced. I think there must have been some deliberate attempt to restock the product after the movie came out as a nostoglia candy.

But on the same trip to World Market that I bought the Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans and the Jelly Belly Dinosaur Egg, I found the Razzles and decided to just bite the bullet and pay the whopping $1.25 for them.

Prognosis: Way too much hype. I didn't really get the whole "candy" part of the ad campaign for this product because it really is just a gum. It's kind of like a softer version of Giant Chewy Sweet Tarts that just falls apart in your mouth and has to be worked back together into gum. The gum itself wasn't that bad but I felt you had to have at least 3 pellets to make a good-sized chew. If this sold for $.50 it wouldn't be a horrible product but it's not a good enough gum or candy really to justify the price. Frankly the only candy-gum combo I think works well is Charms Blowpops where the gum is almost better than the lollipop.

The end of candy blogging, part II...the thrill of the scoop

Ironically a couple of candy bloggers have urged me not to stop just because others are doing it. I think my perspective on this dates back to my days as a reporter where there was quite a thrill to being the first (or only) person to cover a story. I can't quite translate why being the first matters. Or why having your story picked up by others means so much, or when its not credited to you, conversely annoyes the hell out of you. That it's an ego thing is pretty much the only way to explain it, and while I imagine it doesn't make much sense to people outside of the profession, now that more people are blogging I suspect the deep interest in being first, and/or being credited with being first by others, becomes a little more understandable.

Granted many in the media take the concept of being "first" and/or exclusive way too far. Especially if its some story that is going to be reveiled naturally anyway. A real scoop in my mind is when you are the first to cover a story that no one else would have ever covered without your reporting. Being the first to report the weather or pregancies isn't exactly news.

There are so many news/politics bloggers out there I think this is kind of why I have stayed away from that aspect as well despite the title of my blog being "Newscat." I don't want to be the 500th blogger to chime in my opinion about Cheney shooting a guy in the face unless actually have something unique to add to the discussion.

So when I realized how many other candy blogger there were out there, well I hate the feeling that I would be going over the same ground that, frankly, they can do better. There are other things I've contemplated reviewing food-wise, everything from Slim Fast Shakes (which I have every day) to varieties of Lean Cuisines. At least so I can offer reviews of other products people haven't already gone over with a fine-tooth comb.

Anyway when I have the time I need to write about the one big blog-type scoop I had in 2003 involving a certain Howard Dean quote. I wasn't blogging back then, but if I had been if might have been the one news item I had that could have gotten me some attention. I think of it now as "the one that got away" because the e-mail account where I stored the information was closed a while ago, and I didn't even think to save the important e-mails with my evidence. Anyway I will talk about it soon.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

That famous SNL Gulf War Skit

For someone who's blog name is "Newscat" I sure don't talk much about current events or pop culture anymore. But I spend a lot of time on other people's news/politics blogs but most especially NYC professor Jay Rosen's Press Think. One of the things I really like about Jay is that after putting up his hugely literate essays, he then gets down into the trenches and argues with the trolls and press haters. Those people who will just reflexively call you a liberal-new-york-ivy-tower-professor-who-doesn't-know-anything-about-real-life. He actually tries to argue with them, and while sometimes I wonder why he bothers, I admit its interesting to watch.

But I was going on in a post about something I've been reminded of lately which is a certain famous Saturday Night Live Skit which mocked how the press behaved during the first Gulf War. The "joke" was the press would ask questions like:

"Which method of hiding SCUD missiles is working best for the Iraqis" and "knowing what you know, where would you say our forces are most vulnerable to attack, and how could the Iraqis best exploit those weaknesses?" all of which implied such a high level of stupidity on the press and inspired actual anger at their behavior. Of course its a joke, right?

Well here's the thing. There's a great word I learned in graduate school; simulacrum. It means a simulation of something that seems real enough to replace the original. Like The Daily Show is a simulacrum of the the news because it looks and acts just like the real news. In fact it might even replace the real news broadcasts in people's mind because the imitation is so perfect. But its not actually *perfect* though is it? It may look and sound like the real news, but everyone knows The Daily Show isn't really written by actual reporters.

It odd how one skit that's 14 years old can be so memorable. There's numerous references to it from many different people using it to make different kinds of points. I think over time, the skit itself has replaced any real collective memory of how the actual press behaved during the Gulf War with this simulation of how they behaved. Even in people like former Senator Alan Simpson, when they think about the press behavior during the Gulf War I bet their memory doesn't reference any actual incident of stupid question but probably goes back to this very skit as just a kind of amalgamation of press behavior during the Gulf War. I particularly like this reference:

[Lorne] Michaels remembered that at the start of the Persian Gulf war, the show did a sketch about reporters harassing Gen. Colin L. Powell, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with ludicrously specific questions about where the United States would attack. "In Powell's book he said that when he saw that sketch, he knew the country was behind him," Mr. Michaels said.

There is also this quote from a cMay 20, 1991 Newsweek "Perspectives" piece.

"It was not a trivial component. It gave us an indication that things weren't being handled too badly." A senior White House official, on how the administration KNEW the public was on its side on gulf-war press restrictions after "Saturday Night Live" began lampooning the war media.

But here's the problem...the simulation is not a perfect reflection of the original. Did some members of the press (especially the TV journalists) ask asinine questions during briefings? I'm sure you can pull some transcripts and seem some boneheaded ones. Were they ever as bad as this skit implied? Hardly. But has the "badness" of the press behavior been permanently cemented as reflected in the SNL skit. I think in many ways it has.

When I was an undergraduate I took a class in war reporting (this would have been around 1997-98). One of the things I was genuinely shocked to learn was how poorly reported the first Gulf War was. In many ways it was seen by lay people (like my 16 year old self) as "over reported." Like there was too much information about it. But in hindsight it was actually one of the most censored wars ever (which is probably why it was so popular). I think this snippet from a 1998 radio interview with Warren Strobel, then a White House Correspondent for the Washington Times rather nicely sums up the situation.

PORTER: Did you see the Saturday Night Live skit they did of the military briefing, the press conference, where some of the questions were things like "Can you tell us exactly where the military is going to strike?", or another question I remember was, "What would be the most damaging piece of information that Saddam Hussein could find out about the US military?"

STROBEL: And will you tell it to us now?

PORTER: Yeah, and tell it to us now, yeah.

STROBEL: It was one of those comic things that really, I mean it struck to the heart of the matter, because that was the view that the American people had of the media, that we were just, you know, getting in the way of the war effort, being irresponsible and silly. And that's also I think what the military wanted to project. So again there was a lot of gut-wrenching, soul-searching kind of stuff after the war took place. And everybody for a year or so sort of thought, "Oh my gosh, this is going to be sort of the motif for media-military relations for the coming CNN age." But it turned out to be very, what's the word, misleading.

In many ways its not unlike the Spanish American War where all the unpleasantness is kept hidden until the historians find it decades later by which the public perception has long moved on.

What interests me about this particular skit was how the comedy of it has replaced the reality in many people's imaginations about the press. As Stephen Colbert might say, it feels true so that's the same thing as being true, isn't it? It felt like the media people were stupid and dunderheaded and wanted to reveal secret battle plans so that must be how they actually behaved. Though this attitude may start from a simple joke, it remains with the viewer and is subtly influencing other thoughts about press behavior down the road.

The real thing is the best propaganda come from comedy, not direct appeal. Comedy is the backdoor to one's subconscious and a comedic point can actually be accepted far more directly than anyone trying to make a logical one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The end of candy blogging

I may have to get out of the candy reviewing business. I've been having a nice e-mail discussion with The Candy Addict today and I didn't realize how vast candy/snackfood review blogging is. It's a whole subgenre of blogging that I hadn't been aware of until last week and now that I'm aware of it I don't know if I want to "compete" by offering the same product they are. Especially when they can do it better knowing how to make pretty graphics. (I especially like Candy Blog's visual look. Gummi Bears are so iconic yet pretty.)

When people specialize their blogs, be it about candy or coffee, they can attract a certain audience that then knows they can depend on their blog for that kind of commentary. Whereas while my blog is scattershot in topic, its probably less likely to attract an audience, but more fun for me to produce.

The other reason to end the candy blogging...it's making me hungry. I was mentioning a couple of types of candies I've liked such as Sweet Tarts Rope and Trolli Brite Crawler Eggs that are so sugary that after I ate them (or more likely a LOT of them) I would start worrying that I just gave myself diabetes. Sort of like that you know that joke from The Simpsons featuring Grandma Plopwell's low-fat pudding that gave Carl diabetes.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

A Review of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans

You've probably seen these Harry Potter inspired Jelly Bellys "Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans." I was in World Market and for $5 they had a box of 10 flavors to try but essentially were the gross ones. I've spent $5 on worse stuff and since I've been inspired by Candy Addict's reviews I thought I would try my own.

Prognosis: I don't make a good tester.

Now honestly I've seen these around for a few years and just assumed the flavors were put-ons. Sure they may claim to be vomit-flavored but I just assumed there would be some unremarkable taste instead.

Boy was I wrong!
The flavors included in the box are: Earwax, Booger, Bacon, Black Pepper, Vomit, Dirt, Soap, Rotten Egg, Grass, Earthworm. There is also a Spinach, Sardine and Spagetti-flavored ones but they were not included in my box set.

Soap: Sweet, sort of a nothing flavor but there is a faint after taste of something that could be called “soapy.” Almost like tasting the smell of Tide.

Grass: Doesn’t taste like much. Just sweet. Some people have noted it does taste a little like grass, but I didn't taste the flavor.

Pepper: Definite “pepper” taste that’s pretty unmistakable. Not hard to eat but not particularly pleasant. Flavor sticks around a particular while. I ended up having to drink some milk to get rid of the taste in my mouth.

Bacon: A really bizarre combo. There is a definite “bacony” flavor that is sort of like eating Bac-Ohs but coated in sugar. You know it’s artificial but your brain says “bacon-flavor.” First one I had to spit out. Also the taste is kind of long-lasting. Even after eating Dirt I can still taste the fake bacon flavor. Ewww.

Dirt: For some people this could almost be an edible flavor. Sort of reminded me of black licorice which is not a candy I enjoy. I don’t think the flavor for any of these candies comes from the gummy inside but the shell so as you bite down the first flavor is usually sugar and it take a while for your tongue to melt the shell and get the flavor. So is it “dirt?” It has earthy, dark taste which is why it makes me think of black licorice.

After reading other reviews of the rest of the flavors I gave up. I think I'm going to put the box on my desk and pay anyone $1 if they are willing to try the Vomit one.

Here is a really funny letter to Jelly Belly about this product written by an 83-year-old.

Candy is a sugary sacred treat. A reward, a prize. Something you can count on to satiate a craving. You're turning it into a sick game of Russian Roulette. I've played that game in a German prison camp in World War II after my battalion was captured, and girl, you don't want to go there. So please, for the sake of the children, please stop manufacturing this product. If that Harry Potter wasn't so damn popular, you'd never be able to find a reasonable excuse to wreak havoc on supermarket isles like this. J.K. Rowling is probably mortified that someone would turn her fiction into reality. You people are no more intelligent than a kid who emulates "Jackass" stunts and winds up in the hospital or (better yet)dead.
Read the rest of it...

UPDATE: Apparently I didn't look close enough. The letter is a joke written by a Hamphire graduate. Hampshire College! I should have known. Awfully clever people go there. My cousin went there...but also one of my nemesises did too.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why blog about West Wing and Aaron Sorkin?

I wanted to explain why I spent so much time "obsessing" about a stupid little show and a minor incident that happened five years ago. There's a couple of reasons.

1. Preservation of a good story. The Sorkin history at Twop is just a really interesting story to me. I was in a graduate-level class in Georgetown Unversity that was called "Critical Theory Approaches to Television" and we were talking about fans and television. How fans change TV essentially. How TV talks "back" to the fans (Lost is notorious for this). Its not insane to imagine TV writers, TV actors, TV producers hunting down fan sites and Twop message boards to see what people have written about them. In many cases Twop is the only place someone can read audience comments about their show.

Anyway in this class of mine another student actually referenced the Sorkin-Twop-U.S. Poet episode. She clearly knew the history. You know, I wound up talking to her after class but I sensed that, while she lurked on the boards, she wasn't that much of an active participant.

2. Practice blogging. Another reason I wanted to write out the story was just to give myself some practice in long-form blogging. Particularly something that took a little time to compose and research. (I even had to draw up a timeline for myself as much for "other" readers, and that's when I noticed the disparity between my memory and what Ihad from mjforty.)

So I'm not obsessed with The West Wing or Aaron Sorkin. I'm not obsessed with a TV show(s) that aired four years ago. Its just a little bit of practice for myself in blogging as well as storytelling.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Aaron Sorkin, West Wing, televisionwithoutpity timeline

UPDATE: I found an MSNBC piece that both quotes Aaron Sorkin's return comments to Twop and also puts them in Feburary 10-11, 2002. This would have been before "Night Five" aired.

UPDATE II: I found another specific quotation of something Sorkin said on Twop. This would be a lot easier if those posts simply still existed and people could look them up themselves instead of trying to recreate all of his statements. But the message boards are kind of fragile. You can't really find any message boards posts older than a few years (although the recaps can be much older).

This story of mine is so complicated that I decided I need to do it as an actual timeline to go along with this post.

Sept. 22, 1999
The West Wing debuts- "Pilot"

Dec. 12, 1999
Christmas episode “In Excelsis Deo” airs

September 2000
West Wing wins five Emmys, including one for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the episode "In Excelsis Deo." Story is co-credited to Rick Cleveland and Aaron Sorkin. However at the Emmy podium, Sorkin hogs the mike.

April 17, 2001
Aaron Sorkin is arrested for drug possession at airport

May 2001
Huge contract negotiations problems with West Wing writers for third season. These negotiations include some of the real politicos who serve as consultants to show such as Dee Dee Myers. Raises that are promised in contracts do not happen.

June 2001
Sorkin and his wife separate. They have one child and will formally divorce in 2004.

Sometime in late June 2001...
Sorkin posts on Twop boards and "disses" Rick Cleveland. Actual posts are long gone but some articles quote from them. (Also Mickey Kaus sucks). Sorkin's comments leak out to the NY Post, feud becomes public and but then is resolved publically on Twop boards (Sorkin apologizes to Rick Cleveland on the boards, Cleveland accepts on the boards.) Sorkin comes on to post that because of this incident he's basically not allowed to post anymore or "they" will take away his keyboard. There is some flavor of his statements to Twop at the time in what C.J. Cregg says to Josh Lymon in the "U.S. Poet Laureate" episode. Not the "shove a motherboard so far up your ass" part, but I recall him saying "someone" was now checking to make sure he never posts again and C.J. says something like that to Josh.

September 11, 2001
'nuff said.

October 10, 2001
Third season of West Wing begins with a "very special episode" called “Isaac and Ishmael" and is more or less a reaction to the events of Sept. 11. I hate it. Twop recapper deborah hates it. It's widely panned. A year later even Sorkin will say about it, “I'm not even sure it was good television.”

Feburary 6, 2002
"Night Five" airs. It has a very specific plot where Sam and Ainsley discuss what workplace sexism is and totally agree that whatever is happening between them isn't sexist because Ainsley is like totally feminine and likes sex and therefore is okay when her boss compliments her body in the workplace while other women observe. While I can't show what the Twop boards looked like in 2001, Aaron Sorkin's sexist writing had been in discussion at lot in 2001 which the timing would have worked out for him to essentially write "Night Five" in response to these specific criticisms that were popping up in late 2001. I have a very specific memory that the anti-female sexism threads had been in intense discussion on the Twop boards long before this episode aired and why many people saw it as a response to things talked about on Twop. It could explain why only a few days later Sorkin pops on the boards.

Feburary 10 & 11, 2002
Sorkin returns to the Twop boards briefly to argue with deborah and that's he's not sexist. The actual posts are gone but an MSNBC article quotes some of his posts:

Someone using the name “Benjamin” has been logging on to www.televisionwithoutpity.com and discussing the writing and thought behind the show in the first person, in a "forum" set up, as the site's monitor notes, "for people to address remarks to Mr. Sorkin." Sorkin, whose middle name is Benjamin, has posted messages on the site using that alias, but his spokesman declined to say whether the "West Wing" creator has been contributing to the site lately.

“I spent a few minutes reading recent posts,” notes “Benjamin.” “‘Sexism’? ‘Why I hate this show’? What happened to the good old days of ‘Aaron Sorkin arrested’?” Then addressing himself to someone who criticized one of the show's episodes, Benjamin said, “Wednesday nights at nine there are like 168 things on television, you should watch something else 'cause I don't think this show’s your cup of tea.”

In another lengthy posting, Benjamin discusses the show’s philosophy and says, “I and everyone else here are, honestly, thrilled that there are these fan sites where strangers get together and talk about the show and like the show/don't like the show (I’d prefer if you liked the show) but you ought to disabuse yourselves of the notion that what we do is debate a point and then declare a winner. We're just telling our little stories and doing our lame jokes. And hoping you'll keep tuning in.” (Read the full Benjamin postings for Feb. 10 and Feb. 11.)

Sorkin caused a flap last summer when he got into a debate on the same Web site with former "West Wing" writer Rick Cleveland, and ended up apologizing. “Benjamin” makes jokes about the incident. “After the Rick Cleveland fiasco my office put one of those child locks on all the WW fan sites. We just moved to a new system so I have a very brief window of opportunity before they lock it up again.” He signs off, “Uh-oh, they're coming to get me. Quick, pretend I'm working. . . . ”

I also found this statement from those posts.

If you asked most people around here they'd tell you that "Gone Quiet" was the weakest show we've done. It was the only episode that USA Today has liked this season. I'm mentioning this because of the very unscientific yardsticks by which we measure how much the public enjoyed a particular episode, places "Night Five" among the TOP five we've ever done. Alot of us agree (including me, I'm afraid.) Does that make someone wrong for not liking it? Of course not. - Aaron "Benjamin" Sorkin

[I hate quoting things in piecemeal because I can't give give an entirely accurate portrait of the totality of Sorkin's remarks, and the reaction they got back in 2002. Someone could very easily read the snippets I've quoted and think "well that wasn't all that bad." Remember that I can't show you the entire conversation, I can only recreate parts of it that have been quoted elsewhere. Also think about the differences in power between deborah, the recapper (or critic) the posters who pretty much only have Twop to make themselves heard, and Sorkin, head of an entire creative team and writer of a top ten show and how big his microphone was compared to deborah's or any poster's on Twop. Drawn Together's writers taking on their review in Entertainment Weekly this was not.]

Here's what mjforty wrote that she remembers Sorkin saying when he last appeared on the boards.

His post, had it been posted by any other poster, would have probably gotten him banned. It suggested that one poster should probably walk away from his computer/t.v. set and get outside more. It told deborah there were hundreds of other things to do at 9:00 p.m. on a Wednesday night and perhaps she consider doing them. It took to task people who couldn't see why he was not sexist. (For the record: no one was calling Sorkin sexist, just that there were some problems with the way certain situations and certain female characters were written).

March 27, 2002
“U.S. Poet Laureate” episode airs. Laura Dern's final speech to Toby echoes in many ways Sorkin's statements on Twop about "We're just telling our little stories and doing our lame jokes. And hoping you'll keep tuning in.” Dern-as-Poet-Tabitha says in the episode

"Do you think that I think that the artist's job is to speak the truth? An artist's job is to captivate you for however long we ask for your attention. If we stumble into truth, we got lucky. And I don't get to decide. What you said about South Korea makes sense, you know. Your people
know more than I do...I write poetry, Toby, that's how I enter the world."
Twop recapper Shack has a pretty good response to this silliness. I found a quote from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass that I liked as a response too. "'The attitude of great poets is to cheer up slaves and horrify despots."

November 27, 2002
Season four has started. "Artic Radar" airs. In this episode there is a subplot about a temp worker who is also a devoted "Star Trek" fan and wears an unseen "Star Trek" pin while working in the White House. (Unseen because the viewers never see how big or garish it was). Josh Lymon has a long speech about what the woman is engaging in is "fetism" not fandom. One imagines Sorkin has seen the response to both "Night Five" and "U.S. Poet Laureate" and then writes this coda to his relationship with his fans (not just Twop) in "Artic Radar."

As as sidebar, in the Twop forums a poster Gordon Shumway writes of a personal encounter he had that may have also inspired this episode a tiny bit.

I have been trying not to say this but I think that I am the basis for the Star Trek pin thing. I attended a booksigning of Aaron Sorkin's first script book at Brentano's shortly before the start of Season 4. In fact, it was two days before the news broke that Rob Lowe was leaving the show.

I was standing in line with a couple of other TWoP posters, but I was the only one brave enough to wear a retro "Vote Bartlet 2002" T-Shirt, that had "Tubey" on the back. When I had Aaron autograph the four copies of the script book I had purchased, told him that I thought "17 People" was just about the tightest show ever written and it was fine with me if he never had another guest star ever again, and he looked up to see my shirt, and said "Neat shirt." and I told him it was from TWoP. He had not seen the back, but someone with Aaron asked him if he had seen the shirt, and he answered, "Yeah." The tone in his voice was not one of approval or enthusiasm.

I am a big Aaron Sorkin fan and one of his biggest supporters during time of extreme criticism being thrown in his direction. I was not pleased with the tone of derision in their voices, but I got over it.

And I do, to this time, continue to wear my assorted TWoP shirts to work. I love them and no one has a problem with them. I guess doesn't hurt that I provide copies of missed program the the CFO.

[Just in case people think the poster invented this story four years after it happened, I do recall Shumway mentioning something like this happening a long time ago.]

Coda to Sorkin and Twop
July 13, 2005
After not being heard from personally since last 2001, Sorkin's assistant Lauren pops on the boards to contradict some information about an article printed in the New York Observer that was a reprint from the U.K. Guardian. Her board name is Donniene and she posts three times; once with the Observer correction, once to say she's been his assistant since the first season of West Wing/second season of Sports Night, a third time to note:

Aaron and Tommy have discussed coming back and doing the last few episodes of the series and I know that Aaron has talked to Rob about coming back for that occassion as well (at the moment, Aaron and Rob are preparing to start rehearsals in London for the West End premiere of a A Few Good Men.)

Then, John Spencer dies suddenly of a heart attack. Sorkin, using Lauren's Donniene screename, posts this final message to Twop. I can't help but feel that he must have made his peace with it because 2006 isn't 2002 and so much time has passed.

Dear Posters,

Tommy Schlamme, John Wells and I wanted to thank you for all your many expressions of sympathy and sadness at the death of our friend, John. He never took those who appreciated his work for granted--always happy to read and respond to a letter from a stranger--and somewhere in Heaven he's baffled and delighted by an outpouring of affection from people who who had never met him but felt like they had. You've also provided a great source of comfort to the people he left behind, including the cast and crew of The West Wing.

Several of your posts will be read out loud at his memorial service.John was the ultimate team player. He was mortified at the notion of doing anything that might detract from the collective goal or disturb another member of the company. The other night, Tommy said, "Leave it to John to die at the beginning of the Christmas break so as not to disrupt production." After a table read of an episode called "Bartlet for America", John stepped over to me and said, "I want to serve this script. Stop me in the middle of a take if it seems like I'm trying to win an Emmy." Of course he went and did both.All he ever wanted to be was a working actor, and he was a working actor until the day he died.

He was beloved and revered by everyone who ever worked on our show, and he will be missed and remembered every day.

Thank you again.

Aaron Sorkin