Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Our love exploded like a fireball
fireballs are hot, hot
stop, drop, and roooolllll.
You came at me like a curveball
I didn’t see you coming
heeeeey, heeeeey, you should really announce yourself, K?
I'm drunk on you like I had a few too many highballs
your ice cubes are huge.
You play me like racquetball
you know, racquetball
from the '80s?
You carve me like a Butterball
a delicious Thanksgiving Butterball
you give me a tryptophan high. READ MORE
Once—during one of those conversations in which you and a spouse/friend/coworker are formulating an alternate reality—my husband suggested that we move to Japan and become reality television stars. We're an interracial gay couple with the two cutest kids in the universe. In this country, we get occasional stares. In Japan, I'm confident we could be stars.
Gossip personality Perez Hilton is going to co-produce and star in a reality television show about gay dads, right here in America. It has a very descriptive name: "Gay Dads Of New York." We are not going to be on it. We weren't asked to be, nothing like that, and we're not the kind of people who would do well on reality television, anyway; neither of us has ever said "I'm not here to make friends." (We're not, though.)
It goes without saying that reality television has very little to do with reality. What such programming represents isn't a realistic depiction of a thing; it's the elevation of that thing to cultural prominence. It's the Tyler Perry conundrum. The popular culture will reckon with someone who is, on paper, representative of me. Does it have to be that guy? READ MORE
Hey, Blue Cup. How've you been. Yeah, this cupboard sucks. I know. Sorry. I’m taking you out to get a good look at you because, I admit, it’s been a while. Hmm. That’s not your best side. You’re fading a bit, yeah? I want to say you’re that Devil Wears Prada color—cerulean—but you’re actually reminding me of the color of the floor tiles in the shower of my high school gym. A color used only in public schools and prisons.
And you’re feeling rough to the touch. I can trace each dent and scratch on your surface. You dent and scratch easily. What? OK. It’s partly my fault. I know, I know, I’ve thrown you into boxes, sinks, across rooms. Across one particular room at one particular ex-boyfriend. He wasn’t right for us, was he, Blue Cup?
You handled it well. You’re tough, eh? Made of the kind of plastic they used to make suitcase handles out of in the '70s. Let me get a whiff of you. Huh. You still smell like the plastic they’re talking about in The Graduate. Yeah, you were mass-produced. It's true. But that’s OK. I paid very little to take you home, and you’ve done right by me. It’s been 15 years for you and me, Blue Cup.
You’ve still got your figure. You’re as square as they come, Blue Cup. What are you, about seven inches tall? I’m about 5’7”. Do you feel like you’re shrinking? Because that’s the way I feel these days. I’m 33. Jesus. READ MORE
This track from Mapei, the 22-year-old with roots in Stockholm and Providence, has been perfect in both its original and remixed forms. Now it's acoustic, and it's mournful and soaring in a totally unexpected way. For its next trick, "Don't Wait" will take be reborn as a phoenix and finally take flight. [via]
This interview series aims to make the “invisible labor” of web production visible. Over the next few months, I’ll be talking with a wide variety of content producers, exploring the dynamics of their own form of web production, how they mix that production with their “real” lives, and the various forms of gratification they receive from the work that they do. In short: how do you do what you do, and why do you do it? Talking about the realities of labor isn’t narcissistic, per se. It’s political, it’s progressive, it’s feminist. It’s also totally fascinating.
Let’s start big picture. How has your job changed over the last decade? What’s now in your job description that never would’ve been ten years ago?
There are some helpful, flexible media skills that I’ve developed, with the increasing and valuable help of outstanding support. When I started this job in 2008—and I think this surprises everyone except people who were blogging in large organizations at that time—I touched the code a great deal, to put in and size photos and stuff, and that was only five years ago. I never touch code now, ever, but I can do a lot more with photos and video. The tech teams here have worked like crazy to come up with systems that mortals can use easily, and they're very, very good at it. So on the one hand, I do more myself, but on the other hand, I rely on other super-talented people to make it possible and easy for me to do my own production.
And social, of course. I mean, social media is your life if you do this kind of work. Social media is what makes you self-sufficient. The better established you are in social media, the less you have to ask other people to help you promote things, which in a large organization with lots of great content to promote, is an amazing and liberating thing. There are times when there's not really a news-based urgency to something I've written, or when I've written something particularly weird, when I don't really hit anybody up for promotion of a piece until I see how it does on Twitter. That helps me prioritize what to ask our editors to promote on the homepage or to the (huge) Facebook feed, or whatever. Because if it's too weird for my Twitter feed, it's probably too weird for the homepage.
As the editor of a blog, what’s your role in managing its voice and “brand”? How much time do you spend with each piece that’s not your own?
I try not to be too touchy about the branding of the blog itself, because I do want there to be room for lots of kinds of voices, including and especially ones that don't sound like me. As long as the voice remains accessible, I leave a huge amount of room, or I try to. As for other people's stuff, there are pieces that come in that I spend many hours editing, and then there are posts—I had one by our intern Christina Cauterucci recently about the movie Hocus Pocus that was like this—that I barely touch at all, that go almost straight from the other person's draft to the site. That piece basically went up exactly as Christina gave it to me, so you can imagine what a kick it was to receive it. Mostly, the best thing I can do for branding is to write the stuff I feel strongly about and support the writing of other people I think are great, and to keep an eye out for my own blind spots and try to address them.
Expanding that point, what does a “normal” work day look like for you?
I do a TON of reading of other people's work, and I usually start that day with some of that. Read a lot, see whether there's anything newsy I want to cover, and bang out anything that I wrote in my head in the car. (I have a long commute now, and it's not unusual for me to arrive at work with most of a piece roughed out in my head that I thought of in the shower. I wrote a thing about getting old recently that was made exactly that way.) The rest of the day varies enormously based on what I'm working on, what I'm editing, what's happening with the podcast and special projects and so forth. Off and on through the day, people stop by and chat with me at my desk, and I usually take at least a few minutes to get up and go have a stimulating conversation with somebody I like. (That might not be work. That's just because I have a lot of friends here who are hard to resist socializing with.) I have a very hard schedule to pin down. I'm not particularly good at imposing structure on myself; that's something I'm working on. I'm very improvisational, probably to a fault. READ MORE
Two live performances are getting me through this snowy morning: first, from 22-year-old Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz, a set at NPR Music's Tiny Desk, where she performed songs off of her third album, Build Me Up From the Bones. I wasn't familiar with her music, and it's an easy, folksy-but-poppy listen. Second, after the jump, Chvrches performs "We Sink" on the Letterman stage. It's one of those renditions that makes you love the track even more. READ MORE
Researchers have found that sildenafil citrate, the main ingredient in Viagra, Revatio and other drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction, can also be used to alleviate moderate to severe menstrual cramping in women.
"It seems counterintuitive, but what sildenafil citrate does is dilate blood vessels," said Richard Legro, a gynecologist at Penn State College of Medicine and one of the authors of the study. "It leads to an erection in men, but in women, we think it can be an effective treatment for acute menstrual pain."
A very small study (just 25 women) out of Penn State found that the active ingredient in erectile dysfunction drugs may help relieve pelvic pain during menstruation. ONE CATCH: They've tried this before, with Viagra, and found that the accompanying side effects (headaches, namely; also probably the discomfort that comes with the very idea of taking Viagra) weren't really worth the tradeoff, so this time they tried inserting it vaginally. Whatever works. [LA Times, original study]
New Yorkers may know Jamie Shupak best as the traffic reporter on beloved local news channel NY1, but getting up at 3 a.m. (and being done with the traffic part of her workday by the afternoon) has its benefits, at least to someone with the boundless energy of Shupak. In her time at NY1 she's also written a dating column for Complex magazine, chronicled her cooking adventures on her blog, TV Dinner, and written an e-book, out now, loosely based on her own life, with leeway for dramatization, of course. Transit Girl >tells the story of NYNN traffic reporter Guiliana Layne, who's happily engaged to be married to her college sweetheart, J.R., until she finds out that he's cheating on her with his assistant, and everything goes off the rails. (Think mortifying viral videos, a faux Gawker named Banter, tequila-fueled dating mishaps and adventures, a dognapping, and at least one night in jail.)
Shupak, who's now engaged to former New York Times reporter Brian Stelter, is used to being in the public eye, though this is her first book. She does not hold back in putting it out there, sex scenes included. I talked to her about how the book came about, what it feels like to fictionalize real events—there really was a cheating former fiancé—and how she copes with the inevitable criticism.
How did you approach fictionalizing your life? Was that difficult?
When I first wrote it, it was so much more true to life. Editors who read it who didn't even know me said it needed to be fictionalized even more, because a novel needs so much more drama and excitement.
How did the book come about?
When The New York Times profiled me, in October 2011—it was right after that. I'd been writing my column for a while. Kate Lee at the time was working at ICM, and right after the profile she called me and we met. She was like, You need to write a book. The next week I started writing.
Had you been thinking about writing a novel prior to that?
When I first was single again [after the breakup that sets the book's plot in motion], every morning I'd come into work and gchat with a friend who lives in Maryland. I was going on multiple dates a week and trying to keep them all straight. It was all so new to me, so exciting and really funny and interesting, and he's the one who first said, "You should write a book." I called my [TV] agent and was like, How do I write a book? He was like, you're not a writer, so if you want to write a book, you need to write elsewhere to practice, get your name out there as a writer. The Complex column sort of fell into my lap. The EIC started tweeting at me. That part of the book is sort of based in fact, though I never met him in a bar or anything.
They were like, What are you into, what do you do? I said, "I went on four dates this week," and they were like, OK, you're going to be our new dating columnist. That just sort of happened. It wasn't with the mindset of "I'm going to write a book after this." I never ever thought I was going to write a book.
Some scenes are completely over-the-top and hilarious (like when Guiliana jumps on the back of a policeman to prevent him from taking her dog away). How did you free yourself to write that way?
In the midst of decking the halls and crossing things off my Grown-Up Christmas List, there's always a slightly awkward question come this time of year: What should I get my bosses/supervisors for the holidays?
Do a Google search for "presents for bosses" or "etiquette for bosses present," and there is no shortage of articles ready to dispense advice. On one hand, accepted etiquette through the years has been that presents in professional settings should flow down the command chain, not up. A particularly helpful reader from The Hairpin pointed me to Ask a Manager, which often advises not to get gifts for bosses (baked goods can sometimes be the only exception). On the other extreme, The Billfold also had a column last year about offices that go overboard with gift-giving, trying to rope people into spending more than they are willing or able for their bosses. Then there's the year my supervisor gave me a Snooki bobblehead and I gave him a keychain that made laser noises—so clearly there is also a lot of gray area in between. READ MORE
Georgian era (1714-1830) English Christmas begins early. Inspired by Sarah Beeny’s A Very British Christmas program, this list will make sure your hair is properly coiffed, your guests are satiated and your knickers aren’t in a wad.
1. Procure a stately home. This one looks nice.
2. Employ at least 15 servants so everything runs smoothly.
3. Gift-giving officially began on December 6. Some good options: money, apples, eggs or a castrated cockerel.
4. Put the children to bed—they aren't invited or even included in the festivities for a few more decades. This is good, as things will get a bit racy.
5. If your party falls on Christmas Eve, find a yule log, drag it home and burn it for 12 days. Don’t let a bare-footed woman or a flat-footed visitor near it, though. That’s bad luck.
6. Feasting takes place every day, so wear your most comfortable gown. Luckily, high waistlines with loose skirts are en vogue, so you won’t have to suck in at all. Some women choose to wear corsets in this era, but this is not advised as it will severely impair your figgy pudding consumption.
7. Don’t be afraid to bare your bosom. Hiking them up and showing them off is encouraged. But don't bare so much bosom that you “excite much displeasure or disgust.”
8. Don long white gloves and a choker. Perfect accessories to your burgeoning bosom.
9. Wear a wig or pile your hair on top of your head as high as possible. If you have thin hair, use some horse hair to fluff it up.
10. Have your staff prepare up to 20 dishes.
11. Some of the dishes are disgusting. Don’t fret if you’ve chosen to wear the corset—you won’t want to eat them all.
12. For one delicacy, you must boil a pig’s head for 5-6 hours until the flesh is melted and then mold it into a fatty cake-y paste.
13. You’ll also need a cod’s head and asparagus soup.
14. Adjust the horse hair on your head. READ MORE