Archive for April, 2008

Facebook/Rules

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

facebook-style.jpg

Facebook. It’s a verb, it’s an adjective, it’s a voyeuristic bonafied stalking tool. I can’t get enough of it nowadays.

When I cannot fall sleep, instead of counting sheep or watching latenight reruns of poker shows, I travel to Facebookland. I visit profiles of friends, then friends of friends, then friends of friends of friends and so on. I look through photo albums and compare movie taste. Don’t judge, you do it too

Publishing….Truly Makes No Sense

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

mewritingdoodle1.jpgIn

NKOTB: Yikes

Sunday, April 20th, 2008

yikes.jpgSome things you see in the news make you go

Hello, Narrative: Building Up and Tearing Down

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

thewood.jpgThe Masters golf tournament opened Thursday. It is, in some ways, like Passover. It falls sometime in April, matters a great deal to a small segment of the population, and everyone else kind of looks up and thinks, “Oh, right, it’s probably time to take off the snow tires.”

But in recent years The Masters has been a somewhat bigger blip on America’s socio-cultural calendar, and for one reason: 11 Aprils ago, a man of mixed race months out of college went out there to take on the world’s best golfers (on a course, it should be noted, that for decades hadn’t allowed black members) and coolly destroyed them. Destroyed. Them. And ever since Tiger Woods put up the biggest winning margin at one of golf’s majors in over a century on its grandest stage, the tournament and the game have never been the same. The history from there is known. Tiger became the face of the sport and its best player. There were Nike ad campaigns, higher television ratings, swarming hordes in the galleries, etc. Blah blah-de-blah.

History and greatness and underdogs-cum-superstars attract eyes.

That’s old news, and has been the case in entertainment, sports, politics, and culture for the better part of forever. In everything there’s a pecking order. Bill Clinton will always draw a bigger crowd and a higher fee than Jimmy Carter. Meanwhile, that French lady who won the Best Actress Oscar this year will be forgotten by six months after THIS year’s telecast; Lindsay Lohan, with zero awards to her name, is roughly 20,000 times more famous. Just the way it is. And we like it that way.

But what’s interesting this particular week is not The Cult of the Superstar. It’s The Cult of the Narrative. It’s often said that we build up our heroes only to tear them down. And to justify the claim we hold up to the examples of Britney Spears and Eliot Spitzer and all the rest. But I think it’s only part of the story. It isn’t the downfall we crave - it’s the Grand Story. We are a culture of Fabulists and Fictionalists and Dreamers and Absolutists. Our mediasphere behaves accordingly. Sure, sometimes the Grand Story is a bit more tangled and harder to pinpoint (what is it, for instance, we eventually want Hillary to represent in the end, win or lose?), but most of the time we get a handle on it early and fit the facts to it.

Tiger Woods has failed to win four of the past five Masters tournaments. This, of course, does nothing to diminish his deserved status as the world’s best at what he does. But his superstar status doesn’t alone quite explain why 90% of the coverage and attention is devoted to him again this year. Yes, we get it, he has an exponentially better chance to win than any other single golfer, but somehow Las Vegas puts him “only” at about even odds to take the thing. Surely there must be some worthy stories out there among the dozens and dozens in the field?

In 2007, an unknown named Zach Johnson came from nowhere to win the thing. Catnip for a country that loves an underdog, right? Well, 12 months later, I think even Zach Johnson’s family is probably more interested in The Grand Tiger Narrative than they are in young Zach’s chances to repeat. And it’s because we like big, shiny, lasting arcs that we can take with us from one season to the next.

We like the Narrative. We like curling up and having ESPN (or Access Hollywood, MSNBC, you choose) filter out all those annoying subplots and details, the Zach Johnsons and the Marion Cotillards.

It’s the Narrative that is at work this weekend in Augusta, not the Known Superstar. And there aren’t many nuanced alternatives. Downfall is one, like what we’ve chosen for Britney. Glory is another, and it is Tiger’s at our behest. Some we build to tear down. But some we build to keep building and building and building.

Today’s The Day

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Today’s the day that “2011: Trendspotting” is officially released.

So

Glitches “R” Us

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Got an e-mail from a friend earlier today, pointing me to a curious little glitch on Thesaurus.com.

Oh “Sarah” You Expensive Fool

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

If you live in New York and have left your home since the middle of March - a safe bet unless your governorship ended then - you’ve seen messages everywhere. Harsh little missives scribbled in black on a white background. On bus stops and taxis, billboards and buildings. They’re everywhere. And they’ve blanketed Los Angeles and Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco, too. The petty taunts of a scorned lover.

“My Mother Always Hated You, Sarah Marshall.”

“You Do Look Fat in Those Jeans, Sarah Marshall.”

“I’m SO Over you, Sarah Marshall.”

“Wow!,” you think. “Someone really pissed off her boyfriend and, hoo boy, he is NOT shy about airing their dirty laundry! The claws have come out!! Also: he must have remarkable reserves of disposable income and a great deal of free time. Hey, wait . . . I have disposable income! Just about eleven dollars and fifty cents. I wonder if there’s an easy way to spend it, quickly and mechanically . . .”

Of course, that isn’t what happens. Among the sentient, or at least among those young, gorgeously media savvy who got wise when they got born, “mysterious messages” mean only one thing: a bit of viral marketing. I’ve seen cryptic things plastered on bus stops and subway stations. They don’t carry trademarks or even directions to a Web presence.

Marriage, Hollywood Can’t Live Without It Anymore

Friday, April 4th, 2008

We all know the saying keep your friends close and your enemies closer. For celebrities and the press, it’s more cardinal law than old saw. There ain’t much choice.

But in the TMZ Era

Buy the Book - 2011

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