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February 17, 2005

David Foster Wallace, TV Guide Synopsist

Monday 9:30 p.m. – CBS “Two and a Half Men”
Is anyone else so grammatically vexed by the absence of hyphenation in THM's title that they completely forgo watching 80s casualties Chaz Sheen and Jon Cryer's antics in this "My Two Dads"/" “Full House”-minus-the-homoerotic-subtext-rehash? Charlie1 and Alan organize a bake sale for Jake's school, but run into problems with the jealous head of the P.T.A.

Tuesday 8 p.m. – FOX “The Rebel Billionaire: Branson's Quest for the Best”
The effects of late global capitalism are extrapolated and entertained through Trump-lite Virgin mogul Branson’s H. Hughes–a wannabe herding of his photogenic charges through time-delimited, logic-deficient stunts in far-flung environs meant to render awed the audience w/r/t grandiosity of sybaritic quality of life of the contestants and the contrapuntal circling-flies poverty/preposterously rich oral culture of the natives: tonight in Fiji, the teams have 24 hours to design and market a new children's toy made only of straw, grass, and steel.

Wednesday 11 p.m. – PBS “Charlie Rose”
You know you should watch intellectual-by-TV-standards Rose chew the fat about Third World debt relief with renowned economist and Bono pal Jeffrey Sachs, but look me in the face and tell me you'll somehow pry yourself away from the 11 p.m. “Seinfeld” rerun and Britney on Leno at 11:35 (though as everyone knows his unsubtle-to-toddlers monologue sucks the air out of the lungs of comedy itself and the first guest doesn’t get going until 11:50 or so,2 in which case you might as well watch minutes thirty to forty-nine of Rose/Sachs).

Thursday 8 p.m. – FOX “The O.C.”
Seth, Ryan, Summer, and Marissa enact various courtship rituals in the domain of the homecoming king/queen-, glossy magazine-, you-should-really-model-, no-I'm-serious-you-should attractive set, expressing insecurity only in the unctuous way truly confident people do--you know what I mean, and if you don't, then you probably also express insecurity in the UWTCPD--while Sandy and Kirsten defy mortality via Botox, pilates,(3and sex that, were it just a tad more randy, might sic the censors on R. Murdoch.

Friday 12:30 a.m. – USA Weekend at Bernie's II (1993) *½
Notable only for the continuing career slide of former 80s WASP wet dream Andrew McCarthy (see role opposite 2.5 Men's Cryer in far superior M. Ringwald vehicle Pretty in Pink), and for the fact that it was his third starring role with a partially or fully inanimate object/human in six years.4

Friday 7:30 p.m. – UPN “Girlfriends” (rebroadcast)
Ghettoized to both UPN and this dire pre-UPN Friday Night Movie timeslot,5 when no one but the anhedonic losers who have no exciting weekend plans are settling in for a long stultifying night in front of the old CRT,6 “Girlfriends” widens the of-Mexico-sized racial gulf as Middle Americans are fed convivial images of what black people are “really like,” if by “really like” one means non-threatening jocose one-liners that prop up stale black myths while preserving white hegemony, symbolized most comprehensively by “Girlfriends”’s chasing the tepid 7 p.m. heels of pseudo-“Honeymooners” pabulum “The King of Queens.” Toni and Joan clash over relationship advice for Maya.

Sunday 4 a.m. NBC – Paid programming
Either the ravages of insomnia, the diminishing effects of the eight Miller Lites you shotgunned at the bar for the prerequisite Bogartesque detachment needed to discuss the on-stage Kinks-derivative band with the E.A. Poe-raven-haired neo-punk chick who revealed just enough lower back to titillate you with both flashes of tanned flesh and a portion of, thank God, a non-Chinese calligraphic tat, or your deferred childhood dreams of wanting to create your own V8-knockoff may lead you to call in and purchase Jeremy Winslow’s Amazing Veggie Juicer as you watch the weathergirl-pretty host (the flawless generic beauty of which host leads you into gauzy contemplation of a fantasy life with her, who must surely be less disingenuous and prone to excessive exclamations when not in the headlights of a camera) chant overdetermined bromides about the superb taste and color of the product while J. Winslow rattles off specious facts about carcinogens and free radicals in good old A.&P.-bought vegetable juice, and but so you suspect that he subsists on a liquid diet solely of non-free trade Kenyan coffee to maintain his Kelly Ripa-on-amphetamines aura of frightening peppiness.7


1Note liberal Hollywood scion-cum-former Fleiss client Sheen’s pull in securing further fourth-wall recognition by sharing a name with his character, while poor Duckie withers anonymously on the periphery. 2Plus has anyone on “The Tonight Show” reconsidered the radically uncomfortable arrangement of forcing earlier guests to remain on stage as later guests are being interviewed, unlike in the separatist universes of Letterman, O’Brien, and Kilborn? An armada of inconveniences attack all guests involved, including: visual awareness of chronological order (and, consequently, relative importance) of the guests; awkwardness of earlier guests’ forced smiles/laughs/verbal jousts during later guests’ canned anecdotes about on-set high jinks; lack of chairs for larger groups, esp. music groups, such that the marginalized members must hover conspicuously behind the chairs like hormonally-inflected teenagers crowding around their first porno mag. 3Or if not pilates, some equally exotic yet salubrious exercise that has quadrupled in popularity in the last half-decade because of A-list celebrity endorsement. 4Cf. Weekend at Bernie’s (1989) and Mannequin (1987). 5And you just know the bottom-feeding execs at UPN aren’t quite springing for even Golden Globe-nominated fare. 6Cathode ray tube, K.F. Braun's 1897 Frankensteinian creation that allowed such later devices as the radar screen and television. 7Having once sat in on an infomercial taping in the late 1980s for a product I cannot recall but which was similarly ludicrous and existent only through the medium of advertising, I can assure you that the in-person preternatural sunniness and hyperactivity of these infomercial hawkers is even more terrifying and dread-producing than it is on screen, although you are compensated for your time and can experience the sensation of being forced to clap in Pavlovian fashion when the “Applause” sign lights up for things that by no stretch of Jules Verne’s imagination merit applause.

Posted by yankee at 08:34 AM | Comments (0)

Wayne, Teddy

Teddy Wayne is a writer living in Manhattan. His work has also recently been published in target=_new>McSweeney's. He runs a 4.3 40 and was a Southwest Conference First-Team selection at cornerback.

Posted by yankee at 05:32 AM | Comments (0)

Geographic Coördinates:

52 00 N, 20 00 E

Posted by yankee at 01:13 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Many Languages!

Meat-stuffed pasta pocket:
Ravioli (Italian)
Wonton (Cantonese)
Kreplach (Yiddish)
Pierogi (Polish)
Pelmeni (Russian)

Posted by yankee at 01:12 AM | Comments (0)

Climate:

Temperate with cold, cloudy, moderately severe winters with frequent precipitation; mild summers with frequent showers and thundershowers.

Posted by yankee at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Portuguese

Não é tevê, ele é HBO.
It's not TV, it's HBO.

Posted by yankee at 01:11 AM | Comments (0)

Local long-form name:

Rzeczpospolita Polska
(The Republic of Poland)

Posted by yankee at 01:10 AM | Comments (0)

Learn German!

Gute Himmel, haben Sie einen reizenden Busen. Mag ich ihn berühren?
Good heavens, you have a lovely bosom. May I touch it?

Posted by yankee at 01:09 AM | Comments (0)

Gross Domestic Product:

$373.2 billion (2002 est.)

Posted by yankee at 01:09 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Spanish!

¡Choque y temor! ¡Misión lograda! ¿Qué guerra?
Shock and awe! Mission accomplished! What war?

Posted by yankee at 01:08 AM | Comments (0)

Zloty Exchange Rate:

(04/2004)

1 USD = 3.95 PLN
1 Euro = 4.67 PLN

Posted by yankee at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Spanish!

Los talentos de Andy Richter se pierden totalmente en "Quintuplets."
Andy Richter's talents are completely wasted on "Quintuplets."

Posted by yankee at 01:07 AM | Comments (0)

Military Manpower:

10,354,978 (2003 est.)
[Army, Navy{!), & Air Force]


Posted by yankee at 01:06 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Portuguese!

Pergunte a seu doutor se Paxil for direito para você.
Ask your doctor if Paxil is right for you.

Posted by yankee at 01:05 AM | Comments (0)

Industries:

Machine building, iron and steel, coal mining, chemicals, shipbuilding, food processing, glass, beverages, textiles.

Posted by yankee at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Latin!

Mea culpa.
My bad.

Posted by yankee at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

Traffic?

Major illicit producer of amphetamine for the international market; minor transshipment point for Asian and Latin American illicit drugs to Western Europe.

Posted by yankee at 01:03 AM | Comments (0)

Population Growth Rate:

0% (2003 est.)

Posted by yankee at 01:02 AM | Comments (0)

Learn Yiddish!

Der Tog nokh der Morgn.
The Day after Tomorrow.

Posted by yankee at 01:01 AM | Comments (0)

February 16, 2005

Pimpin' Like a Pirate

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I'm happy to introduce our next performer, Pete the Pimpin' Pirate. Pete descends from a long line of piracy, dating all the way back to the dreadful Lazy Eye Lester, who terrorized the high seas along the Nova Scotia borders in the 17th Century.

Pete’s pimpin’ piracy has evolved to stay relevant in the mainstream popular culture. He is here today to entertain and educate with his instructional hip-hop medley, “Pimpin’ Like a Pirate.” Please give a warm A.A.R.P. welcome to Pirate Pete!

[Applause.]

O.K., class, check it out real closely and see how I break this pirate living down. O.K., yo...


My left hand is a hook,
My booty I took
Always squint with one eye wherever I look
A nice wooden peg
Serves as me leg
I'll run you through if you confuse a pirate with Queequeg
Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
Rum and pillaging is most of my fun
I say ARRRRRRRRR with a passion
I'm a slave to pirate fashion
With perfectly torn sea trousers, I look perfectly dashing
If I say ARRRR ARRRRR ARRRRR, that means that I'm laughing.

[Chorus:]
It's just the way that I live, yo
Like a pirate out to get his booty, yo
But yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
I'm gonna pimp like a pirate till my days are done.
If you live by these high rules on the seven high seas
You'll be a perfectly good pirate, just like me

A good pirate name is Pete
Salty meats make good sea eats
Make an effort to plunder every ship that I greet
For good measure, I have an eye made of glass
And an eye patch if you prefer class
I wear my eye patch to every gala ball that I crash
I'm always sure to call every lady a lass
I live by the seas and I'm gonna die from scurvy
Imperial ships make me stomach a little nervy

[Chorus:]
It's just the way that I live, yo
Like a pirate out to get his booty, yo
But yo ho ho and a bottle of rum
I'm gonna pimp like a pirate till my days are done.
If you live by these high rules on the seven high seas
You'll be a perfectly good pirate, just like me

Carry a big knife or a smart little sword
You'll be a good pirate if you heed my word
Any good pirate ship's got a plank
And an underbelly that's perfectly rank
The worse that I smell, it's the more rum that I drank
"Ahoy there, matey" is the way I say "hi".
Have a parrot on me shoulder, admit it, it's fly
If you live by these high rules on the seven high seas
You'll be a perfectly good pirate, just like me

Posted by yankee at 03:25 PM | Comments (0)

Tetherball with Grandma

She was a spry old goose, even with the new hip, which the doctor said that she should rest for a little while before she got back to her normal routine. But Grandma didn’t concern herself with the advice of the medical community. She didn’t even want the new hip and told us that she was going to work with what the good Lord gave her. It was only after spiking her afternoon tea with a couple of Percodan that we were able to get her under the knife for the hip replacement.

“You’d better take the wheelchair to the door, Ms. Boucher,” the doctor said to her.

“Balderdash,” she said with a scowl at the doctor, and a sly wink to me, as she got up and walked out of the hospital. It was only a mile and a half to get home, so we turned the corner at the stop sign and started to walk that way. The hospital was on the way to the school, so Grandma would just drop me off there before she headed to the auto-body shop to start her work day. There was no one in any of these five counties that could drop a new tranny in your car like Grandma.

She had a way with automobiles but never learned to drive. Grandma always said she liked to walk everywhere. It gave her the exercise she needed but kept her off the road with the “crazy people that she fixed cars for.” She was inherently suspect of most of the people that came into her garage. One time, she beat a man senseless because he had trouble identifying the problem under his hood. She always said that any man who couldn’t figure out the inside of his car wasn’t worth his weight in shit. I can’t imagine anyone wanting that much shit anyway, but saying so to Grandma would mean the strapping of my life.

Despite her tough exterior, Grandma was a sucker for some of the little things in life. She loved to spend afternoons on the terrace with a cool glass of iced tea, just letting the breeze blow by her. She loved tomatoes fresh off the vine and drank one glass of red wine every night of her life.

The one thing that Grandma loved more than anything was tetherball. She could sit and play tetherball, by herself or against someone, for hours on end. She’d just whack the ball hard as she could and watch the damn thing spin around the pole and then unravel. When it settled down, she’d pick it up and whack it again. She had a killer serve, one that dipped on her end and rocketed high above my head. Most times, she’d kill on the first swipe at the ball. It never took her more than two or three shots at the ball to put down an opponent, even the tallest of men. They’d just sit idly as the ball went flying by them or they mis-swiped and took the rope, causing a fault.

Grandma always said that tetherball was like life and I was inclined to believe her, if for no other reason than that she found mastery of the game in the same way she’d found mastery of her life. She’d learned the trick to both of them. For my sake, I hope she wrote at least one of them down.

For what it’s worth, Grandma was everything to me. She took care of me, fed me, made sure that I took care of my chores around the house. She taught me the valuable lesson that life is worth living, no matter what the life is. She also taught me the secret of life: not dying. I realize now she stole that from George Carlin. I told you she was a spunky old gal. Most of all, she taught me tetherball.

The school was in sight now and my walk with Grandma was nearly over. She’d spent most of it complaining that “Breaking in a new hip was like breaking in a pair of shoes. It just took a little time.” She limped visibly and as we approached the schoolyard, I had an idea.

“How about a quick game of tetherball, Grandma?” Because today, I thought I had a chance.

Posted by yankee at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

Daniel Robert Epstein

It's easy to completely overlook the work of Daniel Robert Epstein; after all, his words are surrounded by lots of naked flesh. Pierced, dyed, shaved, and tattooed naked flesh. SuicideGirls, the online 'zine, is probably what Hef would've dreamed up if he were a suburban teenage raver rolling on three hits of really good X: an interactive forum showcasing funky pinups of bookish girls-next-door and devilish dominatrices alike who transform freaky fetishism into punk rock. It's just delicious, delicious smut. Mmmm, smut smut smut.

Oh, also there's some interviews somewhere on the site, if you haven't driven yourself blind. Daniel Robert Epstein is the elusive questioner of the cool and off-kilter.

Sample question by Mr. Epstein:

“Are you going home for Passover?”

[Posed to Gina Gershon, actress and hopeful rock star.]


[ Proletariat, take heed: Before you go clicking all willy-nilly, we're obliged to inform you that many interview-ward hyperlinks land upon SuicideGirls.com, a Web site that is Not Safe For Work. Unless your office is very cool. ]


Y.P.R.: How many interviews have you conducted?

D.R.E.: Honestly too many to count. Over 150 for SuicideGirls.com. Maybe 500 for UGO.com. Then there was the half dozen other Web sites I have written for or are still writing for. Plus that doesn’t count my television background where I produced hundreds of interviews both on live TV and taped.

Y.P.R.: How do you conduct them? Phone, in person, e-mail?

D.R.E.: I’ve done all three but the majority of the interviews I do are on the phone. I also do a lot of movie junkets, which are in person

Y.P.R.: Your subjects cut a pretty wide swath of—I hate to label anything “alternative,” but—alternative artists and performers; really awesome, interesting folks whom you’d most likely never find interviewed in Entertainment Weekly. How do you select your interviewees?

D.R.E.: It’s funny, I’ve had publicists and colleagues who have told me that they see me as the alterative-type person. I say, “I’ll interview Britney Spears and Tom Hanks if someone is willing to pay me.” SG usually wants the alternatively typed people and UGO goes for the more mainstream creators. But I’ve been surprised sometimes when the opposite happens. For example, I just interviewed the director of Tron for UGO, that movie is over 20 years old, I wouldn’t call that mainstream.

But another example is who I can get. If I can’t get Dave Chappelle, who would be the next best representative of “Chappelle’s Show”? Why, it’s Neal Brennan, Dave’s writing partner who writes, acts, and directs sketches on the show. Plus he’s not as high-profile but in many ways just as interesting as Dave himself. In fact, in some ways he’s even more interesting because he can step back and talk about the show objectively, plus he doesn’t feel the need to be constantly funny.

It’s just figuring out who the most interesting people are out there. I think the two guys who created “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” are amazingly interesting. They created a phenomenon that they are only barely aware of. But everyone I know loves that show. So I think they are interesting, they deserve to be on “David Letterman,” and to be interviewed by the biggest magazines. They are far and away much more interesting to talk to than Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt.

Again it’s finding out who isn’t doing a ton of interviews. For example, when Michael Moore has a new book out he does every magazine, Web site, and talk show. But maybe, just maybe, I don’t want to talk to Michael Moore. Maybe I’d want to talk to a Michael Moore type. SG doesn’t want to become a place for people to stop by on their tours; we strive to be a bit more original.

Y.P.R.: To what lengths have you gone to secure an interview?

D.R.E.: Like would I suck a dick? The only dick I would suck is David Cronenberg’s and I didn’t have to.

Y.P.R.: Please describe your interviewing process: how much research you do; how prepared do you like be, question-wise; do you like to just let the Q & A roll freely; etc.

D.R.E.: I do plenty of research—both Internet and magazines off the rack. When I am talking to someone on the phone I like to have a list of questions in front of me. Otherwise I will blank out. Believe me it happens. But I also don’t like to lock myself into them. I try to leave room both on the page and in my mind to let the Q & A flow freely. If we end up having a long discussion about something totally off-topic, I might just include that repartee into the interview or I might cut it down to one quote. When I go to junkets, often it’s me and many other journalists so I might only get a chance to ask three to four questions so I don’t write them down. Unless I want to ask something specific—then I will write them down otherwise I will forget them.

Y.P.R.: Is there an elusive white whale that’s been consistently dodging your tireless pursuit?

D.R.E.: Well I’m zeroing in on a couple of them. Mostly high-profile comic book people. But I would love to talk to Anthony Zuiker (who created the “C.S.I.” TV series). Love to talk to Perry Farrell, Mike Patton, and Darren Aronofsky. But I expect that every person I want to talk to will happen eventually.

Y.P.R.: Of the dearly departed, whom do you wish you could have interviewed?

D.R.E.: Hmm. That’s a good question. I always wanted to know how often George Washington went to the bathroom. I would love to talk to William Burroughs, Jack Kirby, and Alfred Hitchcock.

Y.P.R.: Dish it: Who was the worst interview? The best?

D.R.E.: I fucked up a couple of interviews by not being prepared but I’m better at it now. Who was rude? William Shatner, Andrew Bynarski, Marisa Tomei.

Y.P.R.: Reading the interviews and other such mundane material on the SuicideGirls’ site is kind of like reading Playboy for the articles. Do you ever feel eclipsed by the site’s main attraction?

D.R.E.: This is the second interview that’s ever been conducted with me as the subject and this is the best question! Absolutely, I feel eclipsed by SuicideGirls’ nude pinups. The message boards are a big part of SuicideGirls and that’s where people can comment on my interviews. But I don’t usually get more than 20 comments on any of my works. But the nude pinups get hundreds, maybe thousands. I don’t feel bitter about this whatsoever because that is what the majority of the people are there for: to look at the girls. Hell, I am extremely happy that SG likes keeping me around. Do they need me? Not exactly! But I’ve seen what passes for magazine-like content on the SG clones. It’s not very good. Not very good at all. But I seem to have a bit of a following and I know that I do good work. Is every interview worth its weight in gold? Hell no! The Q-&-A format is very dependent on whether your subject is a good talker and that doesn’t happen very often.

Y.P.R.: Who asks the best questions: Torquemada, the Riddler, or Tim Russert?

D.R.E.: I looked up Tim Russert. He’s the guy on “Meet the Press.” I’ve never watched that show. Torquemada’s questions are more like a test, that’s not right. So by process of elimination I suppose it’s the Riddler.

Y.P.R.: Is there something artificial about an interview conducted via e-mail? Does the lack of spontaneity provide for better or worse answers?

D.R.E.: E-mail interviews suck. The lack of spontaneity and control you hand over to your interviewee isn’t cool. Interviewees who ask to do e-mail interviews are usually paranoid schizophrenics.

Y.P.R.: Who’s your favorite interviewer? Who do you wish would interview you?

D.R.E.: My faves: Television-wise: Charlie Rose. Magazine-wise: I honestly don’t know or care. I wish Kenneth Star would interview me.

Y.P.R.: Ever get a little star-struck by one of your subjects?

D.R.E.: Sure all the time. I got nervous interviewing Peter O’Toole, James O’Barr, Ridley Scott, and David Fincher. That might be about it.

Y.P.R.: If you’ve got one, please share with us a funny or disastrous incident during a job interview.

D.R.E.: Ummm. I shit my pants! Nope never happened. Nothing bad or funny ever happened during a job interview. I usually do pretty well at job interviews, which is why I get the big bucks.

Y.P.R.: What’s up with SG Magazine we keep hearing conflicting controversy over?

D.R.E.: Laugh out Loud. I am probably the last person to ask about this. I am not one to get caught up in controversy. I don’t like to ask questions of that nature to the people I work with that are above me. I learned a long time ago, “IT’S ALL ABOUT MAXIMUM DENIABILITY.”

Y.P.R.: Duly noted. Speaking of maximum deniability, ever kill anybody?

D.R.E.: I used to beat the shit out of people I didn’t like. Never killed anybody. I want to kill lots of people.

Y.P.R.: O.K. It’s Rorschach time: What’s this inkblot look like?


D.R.E.: It looks like two Ku Klux Klan members in their hoods dancing around the devil.

Y.P.R.: If you’ve got a particularly gnarly scar, please tell us the story of how you got it.

D.R.E.: I don’t have any particularly gnarly scars, but I’ve got a few ugly ones. On the knuckle closest to my hand I have a sickle-looking scar that I got from crushing a recycling bin back in college. On the same hand, on the back of my hand, I have a two-inch scar from this metal thing that poked out the wall of the bathroom at one of my old jobs. On the inside of my right thigh there is pencil mark because when I was in fourth grade I was shaking my legs back and froth and a pencil rolled down my desk and fell in between my legs and I stabbed myself.

Y.P.R.: O.K., hot shot, prove your skillz: Ask us a question, and it better be really incisive.

D.R.E.: What commonalities do you find amongst all these people you are interviewing regarding their interviews?

Y.P.R.: Despite the calm and cool professionalism the interviewers exhibit when asking questions to big stars, they're all just as fumbly, fidgety, and friendly as we are on the other side of the Q & A.

So, Mr. Interviewer, how’d we do?

D.R.E.: I despise e-mail interviews, that’s the main problem here. I happen to be pretty interesting but when I reread this I find that I come off kind of boring and secretive. At Radio Shack, there is $12 piece of equipment you buy to record stuff to a tape recorder. Then you transcribe by listening to the tape recorder and typing into Microsoft Word. It’s not fancy.

Also, you don’t really find too much about me personally. Like where I grew up and where I went to school. How did I get this job? Things like that.

Y.P.R.: You're absolutely right; we totally blew it on getting to know the real Daniel Robert Epstein. So: Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? How'd you break into interviewing? Who was your first interview? Do you still talk to your high-school prom date? What's your favorite episode of "Cheers"? Tell us one thing about D.R.E. the world needs to know. Feel free to debunk or start any rumors.

D.R.E.: . . .

Posted by yankee at 03:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2005

This Is the Week That Is

BTdingbat3.gifIncoming! February 14, 2005
by your humble coëditor, Geoff Wolinetz, over at The Black Table.

Posted by yankee at 01:52 AM | Comments (0)

Music for the Masses

500 Best Songs!

Hey, kids! Do you like the rock 'n' roll? If so, head on over to
Matthew Tobey's City of Floating Blogs
to check out the O.C.D.-enabled megalist of 500 bestest songs ever, compiled from suggestions by the Internet's finest music dweebs, among them your humble Y.P.R. coëditors.

Posted by yankee at 01:44 AM | Comments (0)

Impari L'Italiano

Buone notizie per la gente che ama le notizie difettose.
Good news for people who love bad news.

Posted by yankee at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)

Land Area

304,465 sq. km
(slightly smaller than New Mexico)

Posted by yankee at 01:41 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2005

Submit!

Submit!

Tips for Submissions

  1. Strunk & White's The Elements of Style.
  2. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.
  3. Short. Funny. Confusing?
  4. Attachments, bad.

  5. hasselhoff@yankeepotroast.org.


Posted by yankee at 11:04 PM | Comments (0)

Blink!

blinkblink.gif


The Y.P.R. Book Club Returns!


Y.P.R. solicits your spur-of-the-moment, off-the-cuff, split-second, ad-lib snap judgements regarding Malcolm Gladwell's Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking.


Blink!

Posted by yankee at 03:52 PM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2005

Dear Wikipedia


Dear Wikipedia,

Recently we took off on an endeavor for a publishing house that required one single piece of information about nearly one thousand individuals: We needed to know their date of birth. Since we live in a nation with excellent records, certainly the hospitals across our fine land would be in a position to provide such data. However, given the scope of our project, such an effort would be far too time consuming. Likewise, contacting everyone’s mother by telephone would be similarly onerous, particularly since this would entail gathering the phone numbers of many private residences and our mole at the F.B.I. could be only so coöperative. Also, old people have bad memories. It would be difficult to rely on their information about their children.

Enter the Internet and, more specifically, Wikipedia. You have a comprehensive library of trivia about a vast number of subjects ranging from Hank Aaron to Ian Ziering. For the record, Hank was born on February 5, 1934, and Ian March 30, 1964, which we easily discovered thanks to one Wikipedia click. We were, in a word, ecstatic. Wikipedia provided not only the birthdays for every major (read: “minor”) celebrity, but also every pope, professional snooker player, member of any royal family, and Bollywood actor in history. It’s a birthday searcher’s paradise.

It seems that in our elation, we took the “pedia” part of your name too seriously (from the Latin for “foot”). We assumed that those feet were concretely entrenched in fact. It appears that we mistook concrete for clay. We should have realized that this was too good to be true. You state your birthdays as fact. And they are, if by fact you mean “the best guess of the person that wrote this Wikipedia article.” It seems that Wikipedia is edited by its users, and its users are either too slow or too stupid to fact-check themselves. These are people who would rather spend their time bickering over the correct words for “pretty girl that I’ll never kiss” in Romulan or Klingon or reporting the sexual history of pornographic films stars in long, graphic detail, in lieu of figuring out the correct dates and information of the large amount of people and things that don’t fall into those two categories for a publication that’s purportedly a reference tool.

But the blame is not limited to users. No, Wikipedia itself is either too lazy or indifferent to root our conflicting reports of birthdates and take 13 seconds (the time it takes to Google a person and check a couple of other Web sites for some sort of confirmation) and publish the correct date, thus rendering the information gleaned useless. If one date is incorrect, the possibility exists that all dates are incorrect, and therefore must all be double-checked, eliminating the time saved by consulting a central “reference” book. “Charo: January 15 or March 13? Who cares? We’ve got all you need to know about Gaelic handball and Super Mario Bros.”

To be fair, even incorrect dates wouldn’t be a tremendous deal. However, when one looks at your listing for February 15 and sees Kim Jong-Il listed as having been born on that day, one takes that answer as on the level, until they flip to February 16 and see “Kim Jong-Il” listed as having been born on that day. Kim Jong-Il is a powerful man, but I doubt he’s powerful enough to bend the space-time continuum. And unless he came out of his mother’s womb, then dove back in and came out again 24 hours later, one of those days is wrong.

While you’re at it, double check these folks: Joan Rivers, Geraldo Rivera, Kathy Ireland, Kenny G, Dennis Miller, and the entire roll of Menudo.

Thank you, Wikipedia, for making three grown men with four hours of sleep in five days directly question their sanity by blurring the line between fact and fiction.

Best,
Y.P.R.

Posted by yankee at 04:53 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2005

How to Write a Book

This is Millie Von Kruesenstein, Y.P.R.'s typist.


  1. Do absolutely nothing until you can see the whites of your deadline’s eyes.

  2. If you’ve got cowriters, try to disagree as much as possible. If you’re of the same opinion regarding a section of text, bicker about dinner choices.

  3. Criticize what little progress you’ve achieved and doubt what little talent you possess.

  4. Do not write any new words when there are still old words that have only been rewritten twelve times. No sentence is complete until it’s lost all traces of your original thought.

  5. Complain about the pressure of a looming deadline to everyone you know. This will ameliorate the jealousy and bitterness felt by friends without book deals. It will also put an end to social invitations that may hamper your writing progress, as your former friends will now hate you.

  6. Stop sleeping. Complain about how tired you are too.

  7. Never have a mental breakdown before 11 p.m.

  8. Do not postpone other projects so that you can focus on the current one. It’s better to spread yourself so thin that you produce an evenly distributed amount of complete crap.

  9. If you’ve gotten this far without a single technical foul-up, now’s a good time to download something viral.

  10. Make a schedule for yourself, but do not even remotely follow it. Instead, continually do some mental math that divides your remaining pages by the rapidly dwindling number of hours.

  11. The best writing is that which is compiled from dozens of different documents, including things you’ve e-mailed or text-messaged to yourself. Try to create separate documents on as many different computers as are available. Some things will be irrevocably lost, and hours will be spent cursing. Learn a lesson about orderliness, but do not act upon such knowledge.

  12. Some terribly constructed sentences always make good low-hanging fruit for your cowriters to edit, thus protecting your awful idea from their meddling.

  13. Were you napping? Stop that. It’s 11 o’clock already. Start freaking out, hard.

  14. If you’ve worked hard three days in a row, take a hard-earned day off. And it looks like snow tomorrow, so you might as well take the whole weekend. But a day off from writing is not a day off from complaining!

  15. If you haven't drastically gained or lost weight, you're just not writing well.

  16. Assume your sources are reputable. When some accidental research reveals the source that serves as foundation for your work to be as reliable as grandma’s memory, briefly consider the amount of work it will take to correct things at this late hour, then fuck it and move on.

  17. Pick up any book on your bookshelf, skim a few pages, and admit that it's a terrible book... but better than anything you'll ever write. Cry.

  18. If one of your cowriters is something of an optimist, shit in his hat.

  19. If you’re not panicking, call your agent and request they he or she panics. You’ll have no problem panicking afterward.

  20. Call your mom.

  21. Your time is more valuable than your money. Spend as much cash as you've got in your pockets.

Posted by yankee at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)