Archive for June, 2012

Dear Aaron Sorkin:

You’ve had an impressive and envy-inspiring career so far, writing hits such as “Moneyball,” “A Few Good Men,” “The West Wing” and “Sports Night” and winning accolades and awards.

So why so angry?

At 51 years old, you are much too young to turn into an Andy Rooney-style curmudgeon. I’ve read that your new show, “The Newsroom,” is yet another opportunity you’ve seized to Set the People Straight. I apologize: I haven’t seen it yet.

I share your concern about the state of journalism today, but you and I clearly differ as to whether the Internet is a good or bad thing. Here’s what you told the Atlantic Wire last year:

The upside of web-based journalism is that everybody gets a chance. The downside is that everybody gets a chance. I can’t really get on board with the demonization of credentials with phrases like “the media elite” (just like doctors, airline pilots and presidents, I prefer reporters and commentators to be elite) and the glamorization of inexperience with phrases like ‘citizen journalist.’ …As the saying goes, the problem with free speech is that you get what you pay for.

You are aware that journalists are not technically credentialed, right? There’s no test, no overseeing board, no gated membership area. Somebody just has to be willing to give you a job.

Before the Internet, opportunities were few. Cities were lucky to have one daily paper, one weekly paper, and a couple of television stations. There wasn’t too much turnover.

But now, thanks to the Internet, there are many Web-only publishers. And the great thing is that they are not under corporate control like the “elite media” to which you refer.

I don’t know if you can handle the truth, but the truth is that more voices means that we have a better handle on truth in general — if we as consumers are willing to read and listen to a variety of voices and do some critical thinking. Yes, whiffs of Chomsky right here.

But you have a problem with that:

One of the things I find troubling about the Internet, as great a resource tool as it is, and as nice as it is that we can all communicate with each other, and that everybody has a voice – the thing is, everybody’s voice oughtn’t be equal.

Oh Aaron. Such an elitist. It is ironic that the person who won an Oscar for writing “The Social Network” and is writing a biopic of Steve Jobs could feel this way.

You reserve special hatred for bloggers, even mistaking print reporters for a bloggers.

Ugh. I’m a blogger, Aaron. I also subscribe to numerous newspapers and magazines, watch TV, go to movies, read books (both print and electronic versions)*, and I have a Ph.D. (And I’m sticking out my tongue at you in a very educated and mature way.)

Look, Aaron, the Internet is not going away. So let’s trim those eyebrows and put away the shaking fist. Don’t you have work to do?

Stop biting the hand that feeds you,

* Although I am a little embarrassed about what I read last.

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Dear EL James:

Congratulations on the success of the “Fifty Shades” trilogy! You’ve come a long way since writing fan fiction about Bella and Edward. Your meteoric rise to the top of the best sellers list is an inspiration to many writers.

With all the hoopla surrounding your work, you would think so-called “mommy porn” is something new. But romance novels have been around in some form since the 1700s. Bodice-rippers such as Fabio enjoyed a boom in the 1980s, so maybe this is just a second wave featuring short-haired, yoga-toned guys.

I know you are in the middle of a book tour, so I won’t keep you. I just want to ask a small favor: When writing your next book, please avoid overusing the following phrases that make “Fifty Shades” hard to bear:

  • “Mean machine” (a reference to the protagonist’s computer)
  • “Shades of … ” (fill in the blank)
  • “Lips quirk up”
  • “Bit her lip”
  • “Cocks his head to one side”
  • “Lips press into a line”
  • “Blazing grey eyes”
  • “Hooded eyes”
  • “Peeks up at him”
  • “Inner goddess”

Additionally, we readers are willing to suspend our disbelief, but “Fifty Shades” is really more than we can bear. (For example, after her lover buys her publishing house employer then beats and fires her boss, Ana is magically promoted — without lover’s intervention — from lowly assistant who gets coffee to the position of editor. After being on the job one week. Right.)

This is a perfect review on Amazon of the whole setup:

About half way through the book, I looked up the author to see if she was a teenager. I really did because the characters are out of a 16 year old’s fantasy. The main male character is a billionaire (not a millionaire but a billionaire) who speaks fluent French, is basically a concert level pianist, is a fully trained pilot, is athletic, drop dead gorgeous, tall, built perfectly with an enormous penis, and the best lover on the planet. In addition, he’s not only self made but is using his money to combat world hunger. Oh yeah, and all of this at the ripe old age of 26! And on top of that, he’s never working. Every second is spent having sex or texting and emailing the female character. His billions seem to have just come about by magic. It seriously feels like 2 teenage girls got together and decided to create their “dream man” and came up with Christian Grey.

It’s not a good sign when even the sex scenes get old. (An orgasm every time? Even from him just saying her name. Riiiight.)

But you know what? I forked over $29.99 for the trilogy, and I’m not alone. Clearly none of the above matters. I’m not going to be a hater — good for you! Now I know the bar is set low enough that I can write my own raunch and make some cash.

Soon-to-be sisters in spreader bar scrawls,

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Captain’s Log: Embarking into hostile environment. Kowalski! We’ll need to win the hearts and the minds of the natives. Rico! We’ll need special tactical equipment. We’re gonna face extreme peril. Private probably won’t survive.

Dear unemployed graduate of the university for which I work:

Congratulations on your achievement one month/one year/three years/10 years (choose one) ago! It is impressive that you were able to get through two years/four years/five years/eight years (choose one) of a degree program designed to help you earn a career, make money, and permanently move out of your old bedroom in your parents’ house.

(If you had a job and were laid off, you can stop reading. This post isn’t for you. It is for the never-employed graduate. Unless, of course, you need a tough-love pep talk. In that case, read on.)

By now, you might be blaming the university for the fact that you don’t yet have a job. Don’t. Let’s consider a few things that might be standing in your way:

1. You don’t have any experience.
A degree in your field is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t tell potential employers that you can actually do the work. You know what does tell them that? Work experience. No one should leave college without doing at least one internship. No internship? Do freelance work.

2. You haven’t been sending out enough (or any) letters, emails, résumés, etc.
You have to find the job; the job is not going to find you. You have to meet people, talk to people, write to people. You know, “network.” Put yourself out there. Ask professors for contacts. Go to conferences. Attend events in your field. Go to alumni meetings. Contact alumni in your field and ask for advice. Finding a job is a full-time job. Set hours. Get dressed for work. Work those set hours toward your goal. Then change into sweats, eat chips and watch “Game of Thrones.”

3. You have unreasonable expectations.
Your first job out of college is not likely to be your dream job. It likely will be an entry-level job that does not pay very much. Suck it up. Learn everything you can. Do extra work. Meet new people. Ask for advice. See No. 2. Condé Nast Traveler is not going give you a plum writing job right out of the gate, but you might get a position as assistant to the assistant to the marketing coordinator. All you need is a foot in the door. If you are competent, personable and motivated, you can work your way around. Everyone has to start somewhere.

4. You have a bad attitude.
Only one person is standing in the way of you finding a job. Go to a mirror. Look in it. That’s right. You have to do the work to find a job and have the right attitude while doing it. You want to complain about how hard it is? Do it in a private conversation with your mom. Show that you have the right work ethic by proofreading your résumé and cover letter, deleting those party photos from your Facebook page, and having a positive and professional public attitude at all times. Nobody wants to hire a drunk, lazy whiner. (And Facebook is public, people.) Talk the talk and walk the walk.

5. You blame the economy, the university, your parents, your professors, etc.

Reread the first part of No. 4. You earned an education. Your professors taught you everything they could within the university’s structure. If you were too busy sleeping through your 8 a.m. class, drinking whiskey with your roommates, bitching about how picky a professor is about grammar, etc., to pay attention in all your classes, it is a moot point now. You are a great white shark: If you don’t keep swimming forward, you will die. Live in the moment. And at this moment, you need to start researching companies, finding job openings, networking, submitting your résumé, and so on.

The world does not owe you a job. So go out there and take one from some other sad sack who does not have his/her act together like you do. Er … like you will. In the words of Aibileen, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Go get ’em, Tiger!


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Dear Mitt,

I don’t like you. I’m sorry, but there it is. It isn’t your politics, though I do think you are a heartless, moneygrubbing scumbag who hates immigrants and women. (Or maybe that’s just an illusion created by the so-called liberal media. And your staff. And wife.)

As I’ve mentioned in my blog, it makes me sad that Republicans had four years to come up with a good candidate and you turned out to be the best they can offer. And that’s after beating out gems such as Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.

But in addition to all the other reasons I have not to like you, I have one more: You can’t spell.

Look, you can blame your staff, or lack thereof. I know you are searching for a copywriter. It doesn’t matter to me. You want to be in charge, so you have to take responsibility for every part of your campaign — especially when you want to make education a big part of your platform.

Just so you know, I’m not happy with Obama either. He’s had spelling errors too. But at least he doesn’t remind me of a used-car salesman. (And he treats his dog better.)

Able to spell and vote,

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More beefcake? Yes, please.

Dear Joe Manganiello,

I owe you an apology. I’m so sorry that I didn’t notice you earlier. I guess I was preoccupied. But thanks to Entertainment Weekly‘s relentless coverage of “Magic Mike” and “True Blood,” I’m now paying attention. Close attention.

Hello, Joe!

I see from IMDb that you’ve been working for some time. Unfortunately for me, I don’t watch “One Tree Hill,” “How I Met Your Mother” and “True Blood.” Eddie is the “True Blood” fan in the family. “Who’s Eddie?” you ask. My husband. Yes, I’m married — married, but not dead. (He’s hot too, by the way. I have good taste.)

Anyway, thank you for spending countless hours at the gym to make yourself memorable. Thank you for constantly removing your shirt to show off the results of your hard work. And thank you for wearing leather and other supple fabrics. And crawling around in the woods.

Here’s to a new season of “True Blood” (starting tomorrow) and to the forthcoming “Magic Mike” (June 29). I’ll be paying attention from now on.

Love and kisses,

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Dear Apothic Red,

Thank you so much for saving my sanity this quarter. Without you, I might be balled up and slobbering on the floor of my office. Well, more than usual.

I remember when we first met, just a few short weeks ago. I was looking for Cupcake Red Velvet when the Publix wine dude suggested I try you instead. I like to keep my options open, so I took both of you home with me. (You and Cupcake, that is, not you and the wine dude.)

That afternoon, I needed to be outside in the back yard with the children, so I had to take you to go. My first sip was an injustice to your carefully crafted zest. Yet even swigged from the contours of my blue Solo cup, you tasted divine. I reveled in the dance of a thousand flavors as I listened to the gentle sounds of playtime:

Mama! He threw a stick at me!
Well, he did it first!
I did not!
He did too!
Did not!

Thanks to you, Apothic Red, I was able to tune out this chatter and focus on something more important: the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly.

Thanks to you, I could later deaden the pain of having to give a great student a B in a class where he/she would have earned an A had he/she just followed the assignment directions.

Thanks to you, I managed to silence the screaming, stressed-out voices in my head who were trying to prevent me from ticking off the 4,322 items on my to-do list.

You (and your subsequent copies) have brought me much joy and peace over the past month. I can’t thank you enough.

Hope to see you soon!

Your friend,

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