the other day i was chatting with my roommate about how all the time people say “less” when they SHOULD say “fewer” and i got real angry and transformed into a norwegian ridgeback, spitting flames but also earning the love and trust of a naive, half-giant gamekeeper. then i remembered how insaaaanely funny that episode of seinfeld is when lloyd braun gets out of the mental institution and george is trying to prove that he’s NOT crazy and jerry, rendered blind by the glasses kramer forces him to wear from the lost and found, inadvertently drops a whole benjamin on lo mein gum, and i forgot all about grammatical blunders.
LITTLE DID I KNOW the less/fewer issue would come back to haunt me this weekend. after flying to jersey, i was very sleepy and longed for a caffeinated beverage, so i stopped at starbucks. along with my drink came a napkin (pictured above), which contained the following text:
—– less napkins. more plants. more planet. less napkins.
seriously?? what kind of lawless land do we live in?? is there no quality control on napkin text?? you know what would make me LESS mad and post FEWER angry blogs directed at coffee conglomerates?
with a blog post title like that YOU KNOW i’m about to go deep.
cue the janet jackson.
so there is a writer named kitty kelley. she got famous in the mid-80′s for writing unauthorized, gossip-laden biographies of cultural icons like frank sinatra (slut!), jackie o (wife of a slut!), and nancy reagan (secret slut who incidentally boned frank sinatra!). just last month, she published her latest effort, oprah, a long ass book (445 pages to be exact) which purports to shed new light on the life of the daytime queen/media mogul, but mainly just rehashes a bunch of shit you either already knew, or if you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t care about. aside from a handful of salacious details involving things like john tesh and crack cocaine, there isn’t much in oprah that kept me from wanting to shut the cover, turn on some old school mariah, and get back to making cauliflower soup.
in the interest of full disclosure, i should note that while i am an oprah fan, i fully recognize the level of egomania inherent in her endeavors (please refer to EVERY cover of o magazine if you disagree) and wasn’t surprised to discover that she is highly self-obsessed, considers the kennedys to be “family,” and forces all those who deal with her — from harpo employees to landscape architects to her dogâ€™s veterinarians — to sign non-disclosure agreements in an effort to maintain her carefully crafted public image. she has done a lot of good in this world (giving literally millions of dollars to charity, inspiring folks to read a motherhugging book, teaching housewives about multiple orgasms) but also some bad (unwittingly perpetuating the notion that some jewish families sacrifice babies, publicly flogging faux memoirist james frey, introducing the masses to dr. phil).
in reading kelley’s work, i expected new and possibly shocking insights on oprah’s life, an understanding of how she built her empire, an analysis of her successes and missteps. instead, i got what felt like a slightly beefed-up outline peppered with national enquirer headlines. as lauren collins wrote in her review of oprah in the new yorker, â€œkelleyâ€™s pen is not dripping poison so much as slightly curdled milk.â€
when i mentioned to my sister that i was reading oprah, she made a very astute observation: KITTY KELLEY IS JUST LIKE RITA SKEETER. for those of you who don’t worship at the altar of j.k. rowling, rita skeeter is a fictional character from the harry potter series. first introduced in book four, skeeter is a meretricious journalist who knowingly slanders our beloved boy hero for her own professional advancement. paula abdul even wrote a song about it.
in thinking about the many connections between kelley and skeeter, i was struck by the following: we trust journalists to present the truth, or at least both sides of an issue, and when we pick up a work of nonfiction that claims to be objective and unbiased (especially one printed by a reputable publishing house) we assume that (1) we can reasonably believe what we are reading and (2) we can clearly discern WHERE and HOW authors have obtained their information. the problem with skeeter, kelley, and others like them is that transparency and integrity are sacrificed in the name of sensationalism and personal gain.
WHICH ALSO SEEMS TO BE THE THEME OF THE 21ST CENTURY. i know the gilded age already happened, but i kinda feel like the second incarnation has descended upon the good old u s of a. when vapid, silicone-based reality tv personalities are literally MILLIONS of times as famous as poet laureates and machiavellian financial overlords guzzle money while countless families are bankrupted by their convoluted schemes, you know there is trouble in the hamster cage.
it should come as no surprise that “yellow journalism,” a brand of hyperbolic — and highly speculative — reporting designed to attract readers and stir controversy, emerged in the gilded age, at a time when newspapers were vying for market dominance and audiences were hungry for the next juicy tidbit. were it not for yellow journalism and inaccurate reports that the U.S.S. maine was deliberately sunk in 1898, there’s a very good chance that the spanish-american war would not have happened! which would mean that the guantanamo bay detention camp would not exist! which would mean that we wouldn’t have been covertly waterboarding people there for the past decade! HOT DAMN.
when journalism is co-opted by politics, or business interests, or even an individual writer’s quest for fame, it makes our world just a little bit more hollow. when headlines are taken at face value and footnotes foregone, we end up believing and doing things that don’t make sense (weapons of mass destruction what?). basically, my point is this: we can’t rely on others to disseminate truth. just because you read it in the new york times doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. remember, even they got duped.
if you made it to the end of this post, which i think turned out to be more of a diatribe than a book review, you are freaking amazing. holler at me with your thoughts.
this weekend, when i wasn’t discussing 18th century political theory with michelle obama inside that little room at the top of the washington monument, i was learning about hilarious websites from my younger sister. when she showed me CAKE WRECKS, i just about flipped my lid. the whole site is devoted to cakes that have gone wrong in fundamental and deeply profound ways. whoever thought of that deserves complimentary continental breakfast with some delicious cinnamon buns at the holiday inn express. OH WAIT THAT IS ALREADY INCLUDED IN THE PRICE OF THE ROOM. SHOOOOOT SON.
if you haven’t seen the site, you need to STOP BONING YOUR BOY/GIRLFRIEND AND CLICK ON SOME HYPERLINKS.
(1) my new bike. i’ve been riding it all over town, waving to strangers as the wind zooms through the little aerodynamic holes in my helmet. that’s right I WEAR A HELMET WHEN BIKING IN THE CITY SO AS NOT TO INJURE MY BRAINS.
(2) mad men. just finished season two, about to start part trois, which is sure to be filled with even more repressed sexuality and gender inequality!! also i know everybody thinks don draper is so sexxy but i’m like yo KEN COSGROVE what up boo.
(3) kristen wiig. do i even need to justify this??
(4) taking notes on legal pads and DOMINATING THE SHIT OUT OF ABLETON LIVE (a program i use to run my live show and sample stuff). i’m accumulating a legitimate STACK OF NOTES in my lil studio and it makes me feel like i’m back in school, listening to one of my anthro professors explain what a palimpsest is while secretly wondering if a palimpsest is actually some kind of flesh-eating zit.
(5) and finally, this video. sooo many reasons why this continually blows my mind. i’d love to hear your thoughts..