Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I do not understand our current financial crisis. I do, however, understand adverbs, and Dana Milbank apparently likes them a lot, especially ones that begin with C:
Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House banking committee, made his way into the House media gallery to face 75 reporters yesterday afternoon. ... "The Endangered Species Act apparently does not apply to financial institutions," he joked, cruelly.

He vowed, callously, that there will be "no golden parachutes while we are the owners" of Wall Street firms' bad debts. ...

He then cynically turned Paulson's defense of the Wall Street executives upside down. "Let me defend CEOs against Hank Paulson's attack on them," Frank said with feigned sincerity. ...
Lest adjectives feel left out, Milbank also goes hog wild with them too, describing Frank as hard-hearted, merciless, and brazen.

What is he going for here? Sarcasm? Hyperbole? Sloppy writing? I am not clear. But one thing is: Raymond Carver would not approve.

In other, more straightforward news, the Republican ticket had a big day today. Sarah Palin met with world leaders and war criminals and John McCain held his first news conference since fish flopped on land and decided to grow legs. And I am cranky because I am watching the very last, rather grim episodes of the Wire and they are giving me nightmares.

My irritation is probably nothing compared to George Will's, though. He is one serious Grumpy Gus today: he mutters that Obama isn't experienced but McCain is insane and only one of those problems has a possible fix. He'll be lucky if the GOP doesn't disappear him like they disappeared Carly Fiorina (and her golden parachute).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Postcards from the Verge

Jonathan Dee's NYT Magazine's article "The Tell-All College Tour" came out this weekend, making half of my face famous, offering new evidence on the Who's Bigger, Me or Katie Price question (don't I look TINY in that picture down there in the corner?), and catapulting my fledgling company into the spotlight. Our internet traffic spiked on Friday as soon as the link appeared on the NYT website, and there was much whooping and sending it back and forth in the office.

The media attention guarantees nothing, of course, except that we now have a chance. And although we at one point hit #1 on the Most Emailed list, the Sunday loudmouths have crowded the top and bumped us down to #6. Just what you'd expect of the media elites.

Though I'm glad Jonathan Dee had a positive take on us, I have to say that I'm astonished by the utter lack of fact-checking that occurs over at Gray Lady HQ. You'd think the Paper of Record would take note of the following, wouldn't you?:
  • there were initially 15 editors, not 20; now there are 13
  • we each were assigned 14 schools to cover, not 10
  • our office is on Park Avenue South, not Park Avenue, though I agree that the latter fits better into Dee's narrative
  • there are only 20 of us in the entire office, not 26
  • my brother, the quoted "current Cornell student," is, as he should be at 27, an alum

and so on. Also, I maintain that "the New Face of College Admissions" would have been a better title. But it's churlish to complain. The buzz is beginning! Perhaps we are well on our way to becoming the next medium-sized thing.

My coworkers and I hooted over Dee's dour-sounding note at the end of the piece:
It all might seem less suggestive if it weren’t for the fact that this whole “grass-roots movement” seems poised to make a lot of money — most of which seems destined to find its way to the usual suspects, none of whom are part of a grass-roots anything.
As someone who is yet to have made over $30K a year in New York City, I can only say, Amen, brother JDee. Amen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Say Goodnight, Fiorina

How appropriate that in a campaign built on lies, a person can get shitcanned for telling the truth:
Asked by a St. Louis radio station whether she thought Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin could run a company like Hewlett-Packard, Fiorina responded: "No, I don't."
The McCain folks are pissed.
"Carly will now disappear," this source said. "Senator McCain was furious." Asked to define "disappear," this source said, adding that she would be off TV for a while ...

Fiorina was booked for several TV interviews over the next few days, including one on CNN. Those interviews have been canceled.
No $50 million golden parachute on this ride down, I guess. But who will cry sexism on Palin's behalf now?

What's so frustrating is OF COURSE none of these political contenders could run a major corporation. That's not what they've trained to do. Even George W., who *had* an MBA, couldn't helm Hewlett-Packard. But putting Sarah "Bush in a Skirt" Palin in office would be worse than average, an awful lot like putting Norville Barnes in charge of Hudsucker Industries. Except that Norville Barnes was authentically a nice guy, not someone who fired her enemies and appointed old high school friends with no experience to run million dollar agencies.

Sarah Palin is officially Not Fun Anymore, even if she does have an action figure.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Please Note

It's unsettling to see one's bra size in the NYT mag prefaced by the words "startlingly large." Especially because I suspect the author has his facts wrong. Seriously, here's me:

And here's Katie Price:

No comparison, right? Right. But why should I expect fact-checking from the NYT? Last week Mo Dowd claimed Hillary went to Wesleyan. (The snobby, media-elitist northeastern liberal arts college Hill attended was, as everyone knows, Wellesley.)

Speaking of secondary sexual characteristics, Mr. Ben and I saw fabulous cabaret/burlesque Saturday night, courtesy of Lazy Rizo and the Assettes. In fact it's the only successful burlesque/cabaret I've ever seen -- it managed to be hilarious and sexy and entertaining all the way through.

In one incredible number, a man who began tap-dancing to "Momma's Little Baby Loves Shortening Bread" in a sailor dress and pigtails transformed, via striptease, into glitter Jesus, backed up by a bouncy version of "Let The Circle Be Unbroken."

Digest that if you can.

The next day, for a change of pace, Mr. Ben headed off to a patriotic photoshoot and the LES Pickle Festival while I hit up the Brooklyn Book Festival with friends. We got to see Richard Price (the Wire, Lush Life), A.M. Homes (the L Word, the Safety of Objects), Simon Rich (SNL, the New Yorker), Russell Banks (Cloudsplitter, Affliction), and Jonathan Franzen (the Corrections, How To Be Alone). FOR FREE. And Franzen flirted with me! Okay, he didn't, but he could have -- we spoke briefly, and he gazed at me with his sad, soulful eyes.

This was definitely an "I <3 NY" kind of weekend.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Wow! Both my parents are energy lawyers who have worked for the federal government off and on their whole lives, and they never had this much fun. But then, aside from Jay McInerney, and, we now know, members of the Bush administration's Interior Department, who does?:
The report says that eight officials in the royalty program accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski and paintball outings; meals and drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game and a Colorado Rockies baseball game.

The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.”

The investigation separately found that the program’s manager mixed official and personal business. In sometimes lurid detail, the report also accuses him of having intimate relations with two subordinates, one of whom regularly sold him cocaine.

The culture of the organization “appeared to be devoid of both the ethical standards and internal controls sufficient to protect the integrity of this vital revenue-producing program,” one report said.
The sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives sound particularly enticing, don't they? Also the paintball outings, because god knows they're hard to come by.

I am trying to be in a better mood about things. The oh-so-wise Gail Collins is telling me to be, for one. Also, contrary to expectations, Rushdie's entertaining but narratively muddled Enchantress of Florence was not even shortlisted for the Booker this year, which means all status quos change eventually. AND the Large Hadron Collider succeeded in creating a small black hole but not in destroying the world. This feels like a good thing right now, although ask me again if McCain/Palin are elected.

NOTE: Do you ever think about the fact that life could end suddenly, in a flash, depriving all the religions of the world of ever knowing whether they were right?

Monday, September 08, 2008


The events of the past couple weeks have been dragging me down bit by bit, especially as we near the end of my favorite season:
I am scanning the horizon for mermaids or bright spots, anything that might cheer me up:

  • The New Yorker Festival. I'm on Year 5 in the city and I've never managed to get to one of these events. Will this be the year?
  • Unigo launches tomorrow, 9/9! This is it, folks, the real deal, the website I've been helping conjure out of the ether for the past eight months: The next medium-sized thing. Tell your friends.
  • "America's Next Top Model"

Honestly, I can't think of other specifics. There has to be something to look forward to! Please, Send Help.

ETA: Gawker mocks my pain and friends email me reassurance. Already I feel somewhat better. Thanks, pals and blogs!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah, Palin and Tall

The Mommy Wars rage on around and about Sarah Palin, yesterday's Bold, Maverick Choice and tomorrow's Harriet Miers:
“When I first heard about Palin, I was impressed,” said Pamela Moore, a mother of two from Birmingham, Ala. But upon reading that Ms. Palin’s special-needs child was three days old when she went back to work, Ms. Moore began questioning the governor’s judgment. Partly as a result, she plans to vote for Senator Barack Obama. ...

Her thoughts were echoed by some Republicans, including Anne Faircloth, daughter of former Senator Lauch Faircloth of North Carolina. Being a governor is one thing, Ms. Faircloth said, and Ms. Palin’s husband, Todd, seems like a supportive spouse. “But running for the second-highest office in the land is a very different kettle of fish,” she said.

Many women expressed incredulity — some of it polite, some angry — that Ms. Palin would pursue the vice presidency given her younger son’s age and condition. Infants with Down syndrome often need special care in the first years of life: extra tests, physical therapy, even surgery.

Sarah Robertson, a mother of four from Kennebunk, Me., who was one of the few evangelical Christians interviewed to criticize Ms. Palin, said: “A mother of a 4-month-old infant with Down syndrome taking up full-time campaigning? Not my value set.”
What a thankless job it is, in America, to be a woman in the public eye making decisions about family. And what a thankless job it is, as well, to be the vice president of a man who lets the press know you were his third choice because he wasn't allowed to ask out either of his preferred dates. How tacky is that? John, will you keep your aides in order, please? They're embarrassing both you and your "soul mate."

The GOP has suddenly become the party of drama, of chick flicks and Lifetime movies. Good for them for defending the ability of women to raise children and have jobs, at least. And good for them for being able to change their tune so fast! The opinion-makers were far less happy about the idea of Palin before the decision was made, according to this hilariously off-message Fox News clip.

While we're on the subject, good for Obama for refusing to engage with this tawdriness and pointing out his mother was only 18 when he was born. Truth be told, Obama doesn't have to do much except keep campaigning and keep Biden from putting his oh-so-tasty foot in his mouth. And Biden's doing pretty well so far:
If Sen. Joe Biden was hurt that Republican operative Karl Rove called him a “big blowhard doofus” at an event in Minneapolis Monday, he didn’t show it. On hearing the news, Biden grinned and said “he’s a great American.” ... A reporter asked if the senator would now answer to “Senator Doofus.” “You can call me anything you want,” he said. “I learned a long time ago you can call me anything you want.”
Oh, I hope the rest of the campaign continues to be chock full of vituperative mothers-in-law and fake blog entries about Foreign Policy that end, "In conclusion, Foreign Policy is a complex but fascinating topic." Please, Election 2008, tell me you're not done entertaining us yet.