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February 27, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 6:41 pm

from gawker.com

Here’s Hoping Google Does Kill the Newspapers

The news that Google is placing ads on Google News has sent a renewed wave of handwringing through the newspaper industry. How dare those Googlers make online news a profitable business!

Of course, Google is planning to keep most of that profit. If Larry and Sergey plan to share anything more than links with the newspapers whose headlines it displays in Google News, they haven’t signaled their intentions.

Good on them! If the newspapers had ever been even a tenth as cynical, opportunistic, and clever about exploiting their product and finding new advertisers as Google has, they wouldn’t be in this mess. Instead of condemning Google of “stealing” their content, newspapers should be grateful that someone’s making a pie — of which they can now ask for their fair share.

For example: A search for Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz on Google contains an ad for a DVD of Bartz’s speeches. Can you imagine a newspaper salesforce thinking to solicit that ad, let alone running it in a timely fashion? There’s a host of potential advertisers like that whom the newspaper industry has never tapped.

We’re no doubt going to hear a lot of newspaper grandees groan that, like Apple in the music industry, Google will capture most of the profits from the online sale of their product. Did it ever occur to them that Apple might be reaping more of those profits because consumers think the portable convenience of the iPod and the one-click simplicity of iTunes have more value than the time-filling music itself?

Unlike the record industry, though, which for a good couple of decades had an enormously successful distribution medium in the CD, the newspapers have never come up with an electronic version of the news that is at once profitable for them and popular with consumers. Their websites are at once too large to shut down and too small to sustain them. The only newspapers seriously considering pay-to-read schemes are also-ran operations like Newsday. The right answer is embracing new sources of traffic (and hence revenue) like Google News — not shutting them off.

A few publishers understand this — generally outcasts like Dean Singleton, who’s widely hated by his employees for cutting costs, and who recently killed one of his own by having his scrappy Denver Post outlast the Rocky Mountain News, which printed its final edition today. “The Internet world is a very competitive world,” Singleton told the Times. “We don’t have to let them take our content. We let them do so because it drives traffic.” He’s right: If the newspapers withdraw their headlines from Google News, scrappy Internet publications will gleefully replace them. To newspaper publishers who grew up with virtual local monopolies, this thought just doesn’t occur.

Publishers should be rejoicing that Google is trying to make money off their headlines. At least someone is.


Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 3:00 pm

Slate Magazine

Stompin’ in My Air Force One

How will Obama’s presidency change hip-hop?

By Jonah Weiner

Barack Obama arrived at the Oval Office with a long parade of expectations in tow. One special-interest group with a particularly colorful wish list is the hip-hop community, which has been plotting this moment for years. If Obama makes his policy decisions based on Nas’ 1996 single “If I Ruled the World,” for instance, he will appoint Coretta Scott King to a mayoralty, fling open the gates of Attica, and grant every citizen an Infiniti Q45. If he follows the Pharcyde’s more modestly pitched “If I Were President,” he’ll buy Michelle some new clothes and treat himself to a new pair of sneakers. If he heeds the urgent lessons of Public Enemy’s 1994 video for “So Whatcha Gone Do Now?” Obama will staff the Secret Service exclusively with beret-clad black militants or else risk assassination at the hands of a far-reaching neo-Nazi conspiracy.

Hip-hop fantasies of a black executive have popped up throughout the genre’s history, visions of empowerment that speak to a real-life condition of powerlessness. In this sense, they’re merely a loftier version of the standard hip-hop fantasies of potency, whether it’s sexual domination, VIP access, or street-corner supremacy.

With Obama’s win, this dynamic stands to change. For 25-odd years, hip-hop has been black America’s main ambassador to the white American mainstream. How will hip-hop see itself now that the most powerful man in the country is a) black and b) a Jay-Z fan? Obama is doubtless the warmest—and smartest—rap critic ever to take the oath of office. When he has praised hip-hop, he has done so with near-impeccable taste. (His admiration for Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, Ludacris, and Kanye West would displease no rap blogger worth his RSS feed.) When he’s criticized it, he’s spoken with none of the condescension or cluelessness politicians often bring to the endeavor. For him, hip-hop is an art form, not culture-war fodder. “I love the art of hip-hop,” he told MTV last year. “I don’t always love the message.” Though it’s too early to say precisely how, there are already clues as to the effect Obama’s rise will have on both.

In the short term, the answer is simple: euphoria. Since November, Young Jeezy has teamed up with Jay-Z for a remix of the former’s “My President,” in which Obama figures as the ultimate status symbol: “My president is black, my Maybach too.” Busta Rhymes and Ron Browz released a remix of the club hit “Pop Champagne,” the title of which rhymes neatly, they discovered, with “Barack campaign.” Nas, Common, and will.i.am recorded giddy follow-ups to the Obama-boosting tracks they penned during his run.

In the long term, one useful way to imagine Obama’s effect on hip-hop is to consider the music that might have resulted from his defeat: probably some of the angriest hip-hop we’d have heard since the late ’80s and early ’90s. That was the era of N.W.A, young men broadcasting wrathfully from blighted Compton; Public Enemy, Long Island agitators with the Panthers in their hearts and revolution on the brain; and a subsequent school of East Coasters, Nas and Mobb Deep among them, who traded sawed-off animus for a hollowed-out, anaesthetized cool. Despite hip-hop’s prosperous rise in the intervening years, an Obama loss would have offered a painful reminder of the ways black success in America remains circumscribed.

Does his win risk obscuring this? Will Obama make grappling with social inequity and racial injustice trickier for rappers? It can be harder to speak truth to power when power looks like you. The rap duo Dead Prez exemplifies this dilemma with the recent “PolitriKKKs,” a song that offsets conciliatory language—”I don’t want to discourage my folk, I believe in hope”—with skepticism about the new president: “Either way it’s still white power, it’s the same system, it just changed form.” In three months, the song’s official video has notched a scant 12,200 views on YouTube—a would-be party crasher turned away at the door, left to hawk downers in the parking lot.

The predicament doesn’t just apply to rabble-rousers like Dead Prez. There is something inherently radical about hip-hop, period, a genre in which the historically voiceless command the microphone and, from the repurposed DJ equipment of hip-hop’s South Bronx infancy to the artist-owned labels of today, the means of production. Obama’s rise might weaken the position of those less explicitly political MCs, for instance, who rap about the allure of the drug trade in neighborhoods low on viable careers, or those whose gangsta tales make an implicit point about the conditions that create gangstas in the first place. Even an unabashedly crass commercialist like 50 Cent casts his boasts of alpha-male domination as a socioeconomic symptom: “Some say I’m gangsta, some say I’m crazy—if you ask me, I say I’m what the ‘hood made me.” Going forward, there may be less patience for this line of thinking. Our president overcame the disadvantages of growing up black and fatherless—what’s your excuse?

This raises another point, about Obama the role model. For years, America’s most visible black heroes have been athletes and entertainers; commentators have observed that Obama’s place in the mainstream imagination was prepared for him by people like Arthur Ashe, Sydney Poitier, Tiger Woods, and Will Smith. We can add to this list Jay-Z, probably the most iconic hip-hop role model of all time. Indeed, the two men form a mutual appreciation society: Jay-Z has called himself “the Barack of rhymers”; Obama appropriated Jay’s shoulder-brush maneuver on the stump and gave him choice inauguration seats.

Their affinity goes deeper. Among Jay-Z’s masterstrokes is that he never tried to rewrite the rules of the game beyond the one that said a black man couldn’t win. While he takes pains to portray his success as, at bottom, a racial coup, he’s never been interested in dismantling the status quo so much as infiltrating and mastering it. This is a fair description of what Obama did, too—with one crucial exception. For Jay-Z, the fact that he got rich as a businessman constitutes its own rebellion. Obama, though, is a former community organizer who chose public service over private-sector paychecks. His example might open up new sorts of narratives in hip-hop, ones where power isn’t a synonym for wealth.

In this regard, T.I.’s 2008 CD, Paper Trail, might be the first proper album of the Obama age. It is a work of personal reckoning well-suited for the “new era of responsibility,” the bipolar chronicle of a gangsta passionately defending and critiquing the choices that have brought hard times upon him. (T.I. will be headed to jail this year for amassing a small ballistics stockpile.) “Your values is in disarray, prioritizing horribly,” he raps, “unhappy with the riches ’cause you’re piss-poor morally.” This might mark the first time that moral shortcoming has been invoked in a diss rhyme—and the line gains heft when you imagine T.I. aiming it not just at competitors but at himself. More recently, the flamboyantly boorish Cam’ron released a charmingly downsized single, “I Hate My Job,” which imagines the daily frustrations of an office girl with dreams of a nursing career and an ex-con trying to re-enter the workforce. At a basic level, Obama—and, to be sure, the recession—has put social awareness into vogue, and if he helps to foreclose a certain radicalism in hip-hop, these examples suggest a new style of political engagement, distinct from the long-marginalized sermons of so-called conscious rap.

What changes would Obama himself like to see? In campaign-trail interviews, he said he could do with less materialism, misogyny, and N-words in the music, even as he recognized the complex circumstances that foster those preoccupations. Talking about rap, he often sounds like the hip homeroom teacher affectionately telling his students to stand up straight. In one of Obama’s most widely circulated quotes about hip-hop, he offered a gentle sartorial admonishment: “Brothers should pull their pants up.” On the score of materialism and misogyny, his wish might come true. Getting natural-waist jeans into heavy rotation on BET? Well, fixing the economy might be easier.

Jonah Weiner is a senior editor at Blender and has written about music for the Village Voice and the New York Times.

February 26, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 9:45 pm

Right, and Left Out
Young Conservatives Can’t Get With the Program

By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 26, 2009; C01


It’s early February, and the happy hour at the Union Pub on Capitol Hill is jammed with an unlikely slice of young Washington strivers: conservatives, libertarians, free-market/small-government types, anyone right of center. People, in other words, in their 20s or early 30s who actually groan at the label Generation Obama.

Organized by an employee at the Grover Norquist-led Americans for Tax Reform, the party in the pub’s back barroom seems naturally suited for this group: Fox News is playing alongside the Dave Matthews tracks. One drink special, $5 for a down-on-the-heels set, seems almost too perfect a nostalgic prop: “The Gipper,” concocted with bourbon.

Spencer Barrs, 22, a Heritage Foundation intern, is talking with his buddies about feelings of alienation.

“My best friend called and asked who I voted for and I told him I wasn’t voting for Obama,” Barrs says. “And then he told me, ‘I just think you hate black people.’ It was a shot to the gut. You feel like you’re surrounded on all corners.”

His friend John O’Keefe, 23, another conservative think-tank intern who might be out of a job after his internship ends in May, dismisses his liberal contemporaries. “The only thing they have are blogs. They feel like gods of our generation,” he says, before ruminating on a very Washington cure-all. “I’m hoping that people get [angry] at Obama and start forming political action committees.”

There’s hope among today’s young conservatives — new Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele just announced an “off the hook” public relations blitz to woo young people — but there’s also a lot of alienation. Those 18 to 29, part of the “millennial generation,” voted overwhelmingly for Obama in the presidential election, according to polling data. Some at this happy hour won’t name their employers in social settings with contemporaries because they fear it will create awkwardness.

“I just say that I work at a nonprofit,” says Margaret Taylor, 24, who won’t say for publication which organization she works for, other than that it’s economically oriented.

Others, meanwhile, worry that they might not have jobs in Washington for long. Recession-related reasons aside, right-of-center young people looking for steady work with an ideological bent are having an unusually difficult time. For much of the past decade, young conservatives enjoyed an array of job opportunities in the Republican-controlled Congress and at insulated, well-funded nonprofit organizations. But since Democrats gained control in 2006, many prized slots on Senate and House committees started going to the new majority. And now, there’s no Republican administration in power to offer jobs to its own.

Young conservatives could apply for regular jobs, they acknowledge, but they also believe that their 20s are a safe age — likely no children, often unmarried — to start low- to moderate-paying jobs that potentially could launch prestigious careers in politics or public policy. The tough job market only reinforces their sense of being marooned.

At Heritage, one of Washington’s premier conservative think tanks, the organization’s Young Leaders Program job bank is receiving résumés from 20-somethings nationwide. But employers are not tapping the source as much as in past years, a sign that the potent conservative think tanks and other machinelike organizations of the Bush years might be waning. “It’s gone from maybe three or four calls a day to one or two,” said David Barnes, the program’s assistant director. “It’s bad.”

Justin Rand, 24, formerly a “confidential assistant” in the White House’s drug policy office, exited right before the election to work on John McCain’s campaign — so, he hoped, he could remain at the White House. After McCain’s loss, Rand could no longer stay in Washington because, among other reasons, he couldn’t find a job. He has since moved in with his parents in Jacksonville, Fla.

Still, the young conservatives talk about sticking to their principles. Their party and their policies will come back. And what does not kill you . . .

Bettina Inclan, 29, who was a Republican Party “victory director” with McCain’s campaign in Miami-Dade, just found a job as a communications and outreach director for the nonprofit activist organization Citizens in Charge, which pushes states to enact legislation through ballot initiatives and referendums and is led by a weekly columnist for the conservative Web site TownHall.com.

She says she would never have sought work with the reigning party.

“My family sacrificed everything to come to this country so the government wouldn’t interfere with their lives,” Inclan says. “I am not caught up in the hype of Obama. When you don’t buy into whatever everyone else is doing, they wonder, ‘Why aren’t you with the cool kids?’ ”

In a New York Times column last June, David Brooks wrote that a new commentariat of young conservative writers — such as Julian Sanchez, Megan McArdle and Will Wilkinson — has come of age “as official conservatism slipped into decrepitude . . . put off by the shock-jock rhetorical style of Ann Coulter.”

Scott Keeter, survey research director at the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, suggests there may be broad reasons why Republicans are not in sync with millennials. “I don’t want to go too far and say this is a lost generation for the Republican Party,” Keeter says. “But it’s a serious portent that [young people’s affection for the Democratic Party] is not dependent on Obama — it’s a function of demographic shifts, and that this generation came of age when the Republican brand has been damaged.”

Here’s what the GOP is up against: Analysis of network exit polls by The Washington Post and Pew show that in terms of both party identification and vote margin, the Democrats’ advantage over Republicans among voters younger than 30 is as large as it has been in more than three decades. Looking at party affiliation, for instance, in 2008, 46 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds identified as Democrats, 27 percent as independents and 27 percent as Republicans, about the same as the breakdown in 1972. But as recently as 2000, there was much more parity: 36 percent were Democrats, 29 percent independents and 35 percent Republicans.

At the Union Pub, Dustin Siggins, 24, says he sometimes uses humor to deflect the awkwardness of being on the margins of his generation. “I met a girl today at the gym from Boston College. She was getting a law degree from George Washington. She was cute,” he says. “But she wants to work for the ACLU, and I said, ‘Oh, you’re one of those.’ ”

Later, in a phone interview, Siggins says he struggles with some of his party’s more culturally orthodox ideals. “Because I am in this generation and was raised in a pro-gay-marriage era, I am only a little bit against gay marriage, but only a little, like 53 percent to 47,” he says. “I have about a dozen gay friends, 30 or 20, and they would all back me up. In college, I used to have lunch with them. . . . We went ice skating once.”

Some are trying to bolster the youth movement, one instant message at a time.

Peter Suderman, 27, and Conor Friedersdorf, 29, both of the District, were recently laid off from jobs at the now-defunct Web magazine Culture11.com, which had a conservative-Libertarian bent. Now, with about $250 each a month due in student loan payments, and money saved from their previous jobs, they are scrambling for new gigs.

Suderman settled into his home office one day recently to IM with Friedersdorf. “I see liberal reporter friends from small publications who are covering White House press conferences who are my age or a bit older,” Suderman said. “Used to be, that publication would not get into the White House or not get the information.”

But he and Friedersdorf, reveling in their underdog status, have a plan. They want to start a right-of-center journalism site, something that features deeply reported stories and relies on the investigative skills of their readers to “crow d-source” articles. So, they start tapping away on their computers, slowly elbowing their subculture’s way back into the fray, to the sounds of Gmail’s IM alerts ringing back and forth.

Polling director Jon Cohen and polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.

February 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 6:17 pm

from dcist:

Chewing the Fat: Top Chef‘s Carla Hall

Carla.jpg Carla Hall, the Howard accounting major turned model, turned chef, took a summer off from her Silver Spring catering company to compete as one of 17 cheftestants on season 5 of Bravo’s popular Top Chef. Hall has made D.C. proud, cooking her way into the final three.

On the eve of part two of the season finale, Hall dished with us about her rising star, what a Top Chef season in D.C. might look like, and her perfect world.

The final episode will air, with either Carla or competitors Hosea or Stefan being named Top Chef, tonight on Bravo at 10 p.m. (re-airing at 11, 12, 1, and several times this week). And if you need to catch up, the season marathon starts today at 10 a.m.

You’ve gone from caterer to reality TV star with millions of people watching/talking/writing/rooting for you over the last year. Now tomorrow’s the final. Is it surreal to be where you are?

It is surreal. It’s humbling to have people send me emails and say that I inspired them for saying something or doing something, and it’s just me. It’s kind of like, “Ah, but you know, I’m just Carla.” And they’ll say, “Oh my God, a celebrity!” I’m like “No, I’m just Carla.” It’s a little surreal.

Tom Colicchio said that he didn’t think you’d make it half way though the competition, but you grew stronger and stronger and made very good dishes along the way. After a shaky start, you really seemed to get on a roll as the contest went on.

I don’t blame Tom. I read some of the blogs and they say “Oh gosh, you should get kicked off.” And quite frankly, it wasn’t that I disagreed with them. I was never delusional about a bad dish that I put forward. I was always probably my hardest critic on any dish that I put forward that I wouldn’t be proud of. I think a lot of times I was mostly concerned about the taste and unfortunately when you’re watching a show, you’re thinking visually and about what it sounds like, but have no idea what it tastes like. Until we get scratch and sniff you have to believe the judges.

And I think it got to the point where I was at the bottom for “restaurant wars” and I thought I was going home and I didn’t. Once you survive that, you feel like you’ve hit the bottom and the only place you can go is up. It’s like, “You know what? I have nothing to lose. I already thought I was gonna go home.” You get that out of the way and you’re not as scared. That fear of failing actually prevents you from doing really well. And I think once that fear goes away you’re free to do your food. And I think that’s what happened to me.

In terms of being your own harshest critic it seemed like you were often criticizing perceived failures of your dishes, and sometimes the judges didn’t even share your criticisms. Was it a helpful strategy for you or part of you personality to be so hard on yourself?

I think sometimes I did need to shut up. A lot of times I’m really gonna pick something apart, so that when I pick it apart for my clients I will exceed their expectations. And if I exceed their expectations then it will be a winner. Even if I fall short of my expectations, it will still be okay for them. And I think that I need to learn not to voice my expectations that I want to exceed.

When I think of a strategy or a strategizer, I think of Stefan. I think Stefan definitely has a strategy. He’s really good at assessing what the task is and looking at the competition. For me, I was my biggest competitor. I wanted to do stuff for me. If I went home for a dish I was proud of I would be okay with that. And I really did mean if I loved it and I wanted to put my heart into it the judges would taste that.

And while Stefan was strategizing, you’ve gotten through your own way. You’ve picked up of late while he’s stumbled.

Every day when I got up I’m like, “What do I need to do to calm myself down to do my food? To not second guess myself?” And I think if I trust myself, I do really well. If I’m not confident or if I’m second guessing myself, I don’t do well. And so, my challenge was to believe in myself and not think that the other guy’s gonna be better than I am. I feel that I definitely have skills and I can make good food. But to put the heart with that and the skills makes great food. And that’s what I was always trying to do.

Were you surprised at all with the finalists? Did anyone go home too early or too late?

Everybody is really good. I would have definitely thought Jamie would have been there. I think Arianne, who is really good at meat unfortunately went home on the lamb. And I think sometimes people ended up staying and the perception is, “Oh their food isn’t that great and they’re staying.” But it’s more than cooking. I think there was one show where Fabio said, “This isn’t cooking. This is rushing.” And he should coin that phrase because a lot of times that’s what it felt like. You don’t have time to develop anything in your head and execute. You’re executing, developing, and presenting in one fell swoop. And so I think the people who lasted are those who were fortunate enough to be able to do all of that on that day by having a good day and pleasing the judges.

You told your friends you were in the Bahamas this summer. Week to week you can’t tell anyone if you’re staying or going and if you’re in the finals or not. How hard was that to keep the secret?

It wasn’t hard at all. All I knew was if I did not keep the secret I would owe someone at Bravo a million dollars. A million dollars will keep your mouth shut. For me, if you want me to keep a secret, you should say that if I don’t keep it I will owe you a million dollars. I don’t have any problem keeping my mouth shut, because I don’t have a million dollars. The success of the show is dependent on us not talking about it. I didn’t even tell my husband because I wanted him to enjoy it. Also I didn’t want to tell him something that he had to keep a secret.

If you were in charge of creating a Top Chef season in D.C., what would it look like?

I would definitely incorporate the Hispanic culture here, the Asian culture, especially the Vietnamese or the Thai. We have a huge and beautiful farmers market scene in D.C., starting with the Dupont Circle Market. Definitely something in the Capitol. You have all of the government agencies. I don’t know how to incorporate that, but it would be great to do some type of event just related to…well, we could never do something with the President, but maybe something on the Hill.

I guess we would do something in Baltimore of course. Something in Annapolis. You have seafood in Annapolis. You have the Chesapeake Bay that you could highlight.

In a November interview with Capital Spice you mention favorites at Central, Sonoma, and Nicaro. Do you have some off the beaten path recs to offer?

I go for pho a lot actually. But it’s like, which pho? Is it Pho 75 out there in Rockville? I like a good hot dog. I used to go to Johnny’s Half Shell but they’re not there [on P St.] anymore for a good hot dog.

Where do you do your food shopping? Can you go to the store or anywhere with out getting stopped and stared at these days?

I do a lot of shopping at the Whole Foods in Silver Spring and yeah, I get stopped all the time. If I’m going to a movie in downtown Silver Spring we have to go a little bit earlier because getting from the parking lot to the movie theater, I’m asked to stop and do pictures. I don’t mind. People have been really, really nice and very supportive and it takes two seconds for me to shake their hand and take a picture and I really appreciate everybody’s support.

Have you been catering as the show has gone on? How has people’s response to your work changed?

People are very excited. I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing. Some of my existing clients are like, “Oh my gosh, we’re not going to be able to afford you now,” which is not necessarily true. This is not the time to raise prices. But we’re getting a lot of calls. A lot of weddings. I didn’t really do so many weddings in the past; we did a lot of corporate things. People are wanting some of the things that I prepared on the show, but also trusting some of the ideas and letting us create dishes for them. And that’s the one thing about catering, is that you can just step in and recreate. You really do end up reinventing the wheel just to stay fresh, unlike in a restaurant, which is really nice. You do things over and over and you get very proficient. But in a catering company as soon as the event is over the next client wants something totally different, so you switch gears every time.

With the Mardi Gras challenge, did you resent having an extra competitor? Was there any guilt for winning the challenge since Jeff had to win or go home and you could have come in second?

Ha. ABSOLUTELY NOT! I love Jeff, but there was no guilt. I was really excited. I enjoyed having him come back. I thought that those of us who knew we were stepping back into the finals had a chance to think about it and kind of do our homework. But Leah, Jamie, and Jeff had no idea and so they didn’t have that prep time. I was really happy about Jeff winning [the Quickfire]. His dish was really good. But I was also gonna do my best to do my food. It just so happens that it won.

And you won the car, too. Have you been driving it or did you have to wait until last week?

Oh yeah, that. I won the car! I don’t have it yet. But I’m excited. I didn’t go to the Super Bowl. I sent my husband and my stepson and they had a fabulous time. They were sitting at the end of the field for the last touchdown. They were really excited.

Fabio seems to have books, television, and who knows what else in the works. Other chefs are back in their restaurants working. I read Jeff says he doesn’t have any business offers. If you can share, do you have anything new up your sleeve?

Lots of people are calling, but what I really want to do is to have a kitchen in downtown D.C. where it’s catering in the back and then the front would be a flex space and I would be able to do a chef’s table and classes if I wanted to, and have some retail space with my Sweet and Savory Petite cookies. And continue the catering, but have other exciting revenue streams. People ask me, “Will you have a restaurant?” No, I will not. But if I could have my druthers, I would have people come in and do a tasting with me. I’d tell them when they could come and I’d tell them what they’re gonna eat. That’s the perfect world, right?!

February 24, 2009

“Why am I covered in feathers?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 9:18 pm

How did a suburban mother of three become the next big thing in publishing with her chaste-but-erotic Twilight series? Robert Sullivan meets Stephenie Meyer.

Photographed by Jonathan Becker.

She may prefer to write late at night while her family sleeps, but for the record, there is not a lot about Stephenie Meyer, author of the better-than-best-selling Twilight series, that screams vampire. Yes, she has long dark hair and earthy brown eyes, casually highlighted this afternoon at her home in Arizona by a black Banana Republic cashmere sweater and jeans, but she lacks the arrogance associated with vampireness. Her vibe is homey; she sits you down on her living-room couch, one leg curled up under her, and starts talking as if you had been in the midst of conversation for years. She’s surrounded by her sons’ toys, games, and compasses (her husband is a Cubmaster), as well as her work—her office is in the front hall. There are family photos and a few paintings of the Washington coast, where Twilight takes place. The Phoenix neighborhood where she lives, a kind of desert suburb, is the opposite of the Washington coast, and lately she and her husband have been taking their three boys (ages six, eight, and eleven) on vacation to the Seattle area once in a while, to see green. “It’s nice to show them that there are places where things are alive,” she says.

During the day, she might go to the deli down the street for lunch with her husband (“I’m obsessed with the Greek salad,” she says), but she’s mostly just around—running errands, picking up the kids, hanging out, which in her case means fielding calls about scripts and producers and interviews. Even in a year in which she is theoretically taking a break from promotional activities, the Twilight industry is booming. She cranks out chapters and reads them aloud to her boys, whom her husband takes care of if she has to go on a book tour or take a meeting in L.A. “I’m a hermit, basically,” she says. “I’m just that kind of person.” It’s not that she has to get back to her coffin before dawn; Meyer is a homebody—even, sometimes, a procrastinator. She never gets out to movies, and it takes her a while to watch them. “We bought The Dark Knight when it came out, and I know we will watch it someday,” she says. If Law & Order is on TV at her house, forget writing. “I can’t move until it’s over,” she says. “If it’s a marathon, the day’s gone.”

As much as she has brought glamour to the lives of teenage girls with her Romeo and Juliet-with-blood lust story, the glamour she surrounds herself with is decidedly unglamorous, unless you are a boy, that is—the backyard is an aspiring athlete’s paradise. Inside, the kids’ playroom is actually played in, though Meyer fights her sons on having to buy the absolute latest video game, indicating to them that their heads will not explode if they do not get it. “The idea of enjoying something you already have has been lost,” she says. For her, happiness is being at home or attending a Little League game or the elementary school band concert. She believes this is what success in writing has given her, a kind of luxury that would not be listed as an asset by the IRS. “Luxury for me is getting to take care of your kids,” she says.

Yes, she will show up at a star-studded opening of her own film, mugging with the actors more like a schoolgirl than the creator of this gothic juggernaut, and yes, she clearly loves her fans (mostly girls), but the very thought of her own success can make her a little queasy. Just about a year ago, on the set of Twilight—a film even the studio had modest hopes for but that eventually was a phenomenon, like everything else Meyer has touched since she suddenly appeared on the scene four years ago—she watched dozens of people re-create the cafeteria she had imagined as the lunchtime home of her heroine, Bella, and Bella’s problematic suitor, Edward Cullen, who is older than Bella by a century or so, as well as undead and living with a large family of vampires. “I suddenly realized that all of this was happening because I wrote a story down,” she says, “and it made me a little sick to my stomach.”

It’s only when she waves goodbye to her husband and son and jumps into her Infiniti that a reader familiar with Twilight‘s hunky vampire would quickly notice something a little Edwardesque about the 35-year-old author—she drives like Danica Patrick on her day off. “I like to drive,” Meyer says. As she exits the dirt road that runs through her desert neighborhood, her foot is on the pedal like teeth on a neck. She is cranking her iPod on the car stereo, a tune by Muse, a band that is exactly that to Meyer. She is not breaking the law, but the law should be a little nervous. “My husband sold our coupe,” she says, “and I was so mad.”

As far as writing goes, she is certainly cruising, driving in a fast lane that few authors ever make it to. Meyer has sold a gazillion copies (actual number, 28 million), so that it sometimes seems as if the interiors of Barnes & Noble are built not with bricks and mortar but with the phone-book-thick volumes of Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and, of course, Breaking Dawn, the latest book in the series, which alone sold 1.3 million copies on the day it was published last summer. And while she is a mom at home, in the publishing world Meyer is a superhero, an author who can make publishers feel a little better about an industry that is repeatedly described as being zombie-like, all but passed away. “It just gives you a lot of hope for the future of this business,” says Megan Tingley, her editor at Little, Brown. (The real hope being, of course, that she’s the next J. K. Rowling, who has to date sold in excess of 400 million books.)

And that’s not even getting to the films of Meyer’s novels. Teenagers stood in line for days all over the country to help the movie version of Twilight gross $70 million in its first weekend last November, after having been made on the relative cheap ($37 million, compared with, say, The Dark Knight, which cost about five times that). New Moon is currently in production. And all for a couple of characters that—literally—came to Meyer one night in a dream. “It’s an uncomfortable kind of power,” she says. “It’s not like, Aha! Now I am going to take over the world! It’s like, Really? Are you sure? I’m constantly waiting for someone to say, ‘You are on Candid Camera. You’ve been punked!’ ”

We cruise through a town called Carefree, a beautiful place with dry, boulder-covered hills and forests of streetlight-tall cacti, and Meyer pulls into the parking lot of the Horny Toad, an old-style Western saloon, a little embarrassed—her husband had been hyping the burgers to this reporter. “Try the torpedo!” he was saying, torpedo being Arizonan for a pepper-infused burger.

“I guess this is what people think of when they think of Arizona,” Meyer says. She orders the saloon’s Caesar and recounts her life pre-Twilight.

She was born Stephenie Morgan in Hartford, Connecticut, her father a finance guy who named her after himself—Stephen plus an “-ie.” By the time she was four, the family, who are Mormon, had settled on the outskirts of Phoenix. She is the second of six children, three girls and three boys; she thinks of her family as The Brady Bunch, sans Alice, the maid. The neighbors kept horses on their suburban Arizona lots; her family built huts, bike paths, a paintball range. “It was a free-for-all land,” she recalls. “Later, my brothers made it a lot more weaponized.”

Books were to Meyer as war games were to her brothers. “I was the bookworm,” she says. A childhood memory: her father, in the hall between the bedrooms, reading them not kids’ books but, according to his writer daughter, “the books he wanted to read.” Specifically, Tolkien-like fantasy, such as The Sword of Shannara, the 1977 epic by Terry Brooks (soon to be a motion-picture series). Her father would read a little, knocking off at bedtime. “The next day I would hide out in his closet with the book,” Meyer recalls, “feeling like I was doing something wrong, like I wasn’t supposed to sneak ahead.” Her mother was more nineteenth-century. “She was the one that had the Austen in the house,” Meyer says. “The reason I’m obsessed with the love side of any story is my mom. I always evaluate a story on relationships and the characters.”

She won a National Merit Scholarship in high school and studied literature in college, at Brigham Young, where she enjoyed writing papers on Shakespeare but stayed away from creative writing, for fear of potential criticism. “It’s not ‘You didn’t write that paper on Jane Austen so well,’ it’s ‘What’s going on in your head? You’re a crazy person!'” In college she married Pancho Meyer, whom she first met when she was four. His real name is Christiaan, but he was nicknamed Pancho as a kid on a whim, believe it or not, by his grandmother. “It’s not even a good story,” Meyer laments. After a stint working as a receptionist at a real estate office, she became a stay-at-home mom upon the birth of their first child, developing a phobia about her kids and swimming pools. “I’m a very neurotic mom,” she says. “My kids could swim when they were two. There are so many drownings around here. That’s one of my personal nightmares.”

Her phobia is the reason she remembers it was on the day of the kids’ swimming lesson that she woke up with a dream reverberating in her head. It was a vampire dream. She had not dreamed of vampires before, had not been reading about vampires. To this day, she has not figured out why vampires; she’s not a horror person, which is clear when you meet her, though she has always loved superheroes—she’s a Batman girl. “I like that he’s not so clean-cut, that he has a dark side, that he’s doing things that are not clearly legal or illegal,” she says. And let’s face it, a vampire—especially the star Twilight vampire, who is good-looking, incredibly fast, strong, and smart—is a sexy superhero, Batman with some bite. From her Web site: “In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately.”

With a little Internet research, the meadow became the woods outside Forks, Washington, one of the rainiest (and thus potentially most vampire-friendly) places in the United States, and the two people became Isabella “Bella” Swan—a teenage girl who had moved to Forks from Phoenix—and Edward Cullen, vampire. It took precisely three months of typing, late at night, her husband wondering what was going on at the computer. She shared pages only with her older sister. “What if it was completely stupid?” she says now. With her sister’s encouragement, she sent it to an agent, where it landed in a slush pile, where an assistant found it. It was then sent to Tingley, senior vice president of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers—Little, Brown was seeing a trend emerging for horror books featuring young women. After reading it on a plane to California, Tingley was offering a three-book deal, which terrified Meyer. “I was just totally bowled over,” Tingley says. Meyer had been hoping to pay off her car and ended up with a $750,000 advance. For her it’s a dream come true in terms of youth-reading interest. “Books are a big entertainment deal for teenagers now—that’s the coolest thing in the world,” she says. “What an amazing gift for me that someone could say, ‘I read now.’ ”

One thing you learn quickly if you spend a day with Stephenie Meyer is that she doesn’t so much write stories as transcribe them; they are playing in the multiplex that is her mind’s eye. “I’ve been an editor for 20 years, and I’ve never worked with a writer who speaks of their characters as if they are so completely real,” Tingley says.

“I had always told myself stories my whole life and assumed that everyone does,” Meyer says. “You know, it’s funny; in Jane Eyre, which is something I’ve read 40 million times, there’s this scene where she shows Rochester her paintings. And she explains that in her head it was so different. And Rochester replies that she captured just a wisp of what she was seeing. I used to paint, and I won a few watercolor contests, but I could never get it to look exactly like it did in my head. But with writing, I discovered I could get it to look exactly like it did in my head.”

Which is why Twilight, especially, as well as its sequels, is not a horror book but a good old-fashioned romance. There are vampires, and they are wicked quick and excel in killing animals in the woods, which assuages somewhat their hunger for teenage humans. But that’s mostly offstage. Twilight takes place in a teenage fermata, an emotional arena that is, for many young girls, simultaneously imaginary and absolutely real. And the boy, by the way, is completely intoxicated with the girl. The courtship is everything, a prolonged ecstasy, because once consummated, the relationship will change, like, totally.

“The sexual tension that she’s managed to sustain is just incredible,” says Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the movie. “You’ve found your soul mate, and that the person who you are in love with and who is in love with you could kill you—even better!”

“I think that the reason the books were that way, unintentionally,” Meyer says, “is because I miss those days of ten and thirteen when a boy looked at you, and oh, my gosh, you could talk about it for two weeks because he looked at you funny. ‘What does that mean? What is that about?’ Everything was analyzed.”

To her great credit, Meyer knows she is not Gertrude Stein. “I’m not a professional yet,” she says. “I’m still just an amateur.” But she knows her audience like Nielsen. “A twelve-year-old girl has already in her head imagined out fourteen different lives, including if she gets married, if she doesn’t get married, if she falls in love with someone who lives in Paris,” Meyer says. Indeed, one might argue her authorial success has something to do with her being surrounded by non-girls. “I live in a house filled with testosterone,” she says. “There’s always sports on my television, and there’s nothing except hockey and scooters, and there’s nothing of that side of myself left, and so it’s great to have a different place to find it.”

Her authorial power is also changing her relationship with her readers; where there was once a manageable number of E-mail correspondents, now she stands before oceans of fans. And as she has changed from underdog—mom writing with a baby on her lap—to Superauthor, the press has begun to wonder about her, most frequently citing her religion and speculating as to whether the Twilight series has something Mormon up its sleeve. Meyer says her religious faith is part of the fabric of the book the way it is part of her. “When you grow up with something your whole life, it influences your work,” she says. Regardless, the books are by no means tracts. If they are supposed to be undercover lectures on abstinence, as critics sometimes imagine, then Meyer accidentally made them a little too titillating, though she is, theologically speaking, enthusiastic about where her characters end up—specifically, the way they, as she sees it, take control of their lives rather than allowing the world to dictate control. “Like the idea of freedom of choice—that there’s no place that someone can put you that you can’t choose a different way,” she says, speaking like the Sunday-school teacher she is.

A more interesting and controversial story is the fifth book in the Twilight saga, a version of the first book told from Edward’s perspective. It was leaked last year by a source still unidentified onto the Internet, all but about six pages. It was a huge blow. “Now I’m over it,” she says, “but I feel really distanced from the project. It was oddly devastating.” Although she is currently taking a break, she may continue the Twilight story, but she seems wary of books in series. “I’m experiencing, I think, a little bit of stage fright at this point.” This past spring, Little, Brown published The Host, her first adult novel, pure science fiction, in which a woman is taken over by another consciousness—two souls in one human. It, too, was (and, like all her books, remains) a best seller—debuting at number one. For Meyer, the subtext was body image. “I’m not critical of others, but I am very critical of myself,” she says. “When I was working on this, I had to imagine what a gift it is to just have a body, and really love it, and that was good for me, I think.”

Returning home—fast—Meyer finds the boys are out, her assistant gone. She may be to the publishing economy what Detroit was to the U.S. economy in the fifties, yet she runs her show like a kitchen-table business. One of her brothers, an optometry student, is in charge of her Web site, which means that if a film company wants their representatives’ statements posted on stepheniemeyer.com, they can’t just snap their fingers. “Somebody will want something done right away, and it will be like, ‘No, it has to wait. My brother has a test,’ ” she says. “It’s a small business for me still. I mean, people don’t understand; it’s just a little family thing. I couldn’t deal with it if I didn’t keep it small. It freaks me out.”

“Dreamcatcher” has been edited for Style.com; the complete story appears in the March 2009 issue of Vogue.

February 13, 2009

From Washington Post- a long list but they’re great.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 10:53 pm

Your Love: In Six Words

Tuesday, February 10, 2009; WE23


We called for six-word love stories, and you answered in droves. More than 300 exclamations and lamentations of love arrived just in time for Valentine’s Day. Read on, and contribute your own in the Comments box at right.

Craigs List. True love. Who knew?

Why did I stay for decades?

Submit to passion, never go back.

Lover breaks mold, none can compare.

Mid-life brings love without fear.

Past gone, future unknown, present bliss.

Never too late to find love.

Early morning love, thanks, Lou Rawls.

Marriage over. Finding myself! Love awaits?

Relax, let love enter your heart.

He ignites passion never known before.

Blue eyes see into my soul.

Serendipity, luck, karma, brought us together.

Spooning, warm breath on my neck.

Much better than last Valentine’s Day.

I love her forever, for naught

“Ding Dong! Here we go again.”

Romania, swoon; Austria, love; DC, heartbreak.

You were never that cute anyways.

“Still waiting for honeymoon to end”

“Marriage is a neverending slumber party”

My lover doesn’t live here.

“Money didn’t impress. Want you broke.”

No husband. No children. No regrets.

Long distance love. Never taken seriously.

Married twice. Same over. Wonderful kids.

Fell in love. Fell out. Ouch.

Sleeping together, no euphemism, deep, restful.

He cooks, loves wine, lucky me.

He is more than I expected.

One after another. Who’s next? Me!

Honey, Love The One You’re With…

“Love yourself first. Others will follow!”

Face in fantasies isn’t my husband’s.

Yes, sweetie, forever is long enough.

In love still happy twenty years

Recently orphaned, recently rich, accepting applications.

Thirty years. Two kids. Still smitten.

Her husband died. Now screwing mine.

He gets me like no one else

Many men. Lone love. Still seeking.

My Dad always send me flowers.

“And people wonder why I drink!”

My boyfriend’s wife phoned my husband.

A sanguine septuagenarian, happy at last.

One Ceremony. Twenty-five Anniversaries. True Commitment.

” Love changes life; life changes love”

I love him. He’s oblivious. AUGH!

Breakup scary. Freedom disconcerting. Dating exciting.

Wanted: Mr. Right. Finding: Mr. Left

Looking for a soulmate, finding myself.

Erectile dysfunction; les miserables; goodbye Charlie

Breast Cancer diagnosis. Then he left.

My true love, solitariness, requires her.

My insanity, her sanity, our alchemy.

I always run. No one left.

Marriage snuffed out passion. Singlehood: reawakened.

“that was more frantic than tantric”

a lovely kiss, a secret touch

Which first? love? marriage? baby carriage?

Blind Date. Soulmates. Married 65 years.

Ban torture now; match dot com

Little boy. Little toy. No joy.

Shy soulmates. Final semester. Last chance.

Hope. Disappointment. Hope. Disappointment. Stupid me.

Two husbands. Two children. Then alone.

Learning that love comes from within.

A spark. A romance. A life.

Passionless for years. Ecstatic it’s over.

“Broken heart doesn’t mean broken girl.”

“Perhaps too socially lubricated by whiskey.”

Up against the wall?? Faked! Ha!”

You’re Alaska’s most wasted resource. Shame.”

Best hook-up turned true love ever!

“Sometimes, dubiously in love. Always loves.”

Better second time around – NOT!

He lied. I denied. Shattered lives.

candy. chocolate. flowers. trite love everywhere.

Taking risks. Painfully curious Incest sucks

I think I love you. Fear.

She came, I loved, he conquered.

He left, she wrote, I discarded.

I. Hate. Valentine’s. Day. So. Stupid.

Dumped. Life shattered. Square one.

He likes me. He loves her.

We said no attachments. I lied.

My parents worry I’ll never marry.

Found soul – in wounds you carry.

Age 47: learned love from lust.

Sushi. Coffee. Tangysweet. Single Dupont.

My dates are my books.

Yup. I’m in love. With who?

No hesitation. No limit. No doubt.

Horoscope: You will find love. YES!

New love found: protected heart revealed

Life, Love, Food, Wine, ALL FINE!

All my biggest mistakes were women.

Champagne and strawberries for one.

At least I got the dog.

Married. No Kids. One Dog. Bliss.

Hate Wedding Planning. Want to Elope.

No Tools Required: Heartbreak finally repaired.

I’m yours. You’re mine. So what?

True love appears when least expected.

She may change, he probably won’t.

Kissed in 2008; Married in 2009!

His most romantic words:”I’ll cook!”

30th Reunion Northwestern HS 1979

Love: it can happen, but rarely.

many miles away and still trying.

Irrational, inconvenient, irresistible all-consuming love.

narcissist love: you’ll always be miserable

Wow! It IS all about you!

Wife wants “negative two” kids? Run.

A wedding? No way! Prop 8.

Germanic, Adonic, hedonic Ivy-league prof. uberdisaster.

“You’re so lucky.” It’s not luck.

Secret history. no mystery. between two

He promised he would never run…

You even make fixing toilets fun.

She was experienced unlike yours truly.

Forgotten, but not gone.

I’m no longer desperate..completely satisfied

It just keeps going and going.

After all that, there he was.

Giving you all that I am…

Childhood Sweethearts, Best Friends, Lovers, Soulmates.

Neil Strauss should be required reading.

Some things are colder than winter.

Lifetime together gone. Divorced. Now what?

Can’t wait to meet/disappoint you.

Ooops, what was his name again?

Too much, too soon, too bad.

Worked hard, put off finding love.

Guys unavailable, workaholic, spoiled, no manners

Thought it was different. Oh well.

I make decisions for us now.

Year and a half. Almost there.

She’s my everything. So is he.

We both loved you too much.

I’m missing you, you’re missing life.

I love fighting with alpha males.

Excellent tooth-to-ball-cap ratio!

E-Harmony told us both: “No matches”.

his mom died. we did too.

we clicked thirty years still hot

art dance reading romance my love

walk Beside me,hold my hand.

Not my fault. I was drunk.

You give love a good name.

Marriage – It’s harder than it looks.

Slighly used heart, mint condition: Sold.

Love is here now. To stay.

Trying my best to walk away.

Head v. Heart, caught in crossfire.

Love is stupid and blind

Difficult convincing friends I’m happy single.

Wanderlust found me; I found him.

Ten years of happily married bliss.

Fun and travel makes marriage great.

Kissed many frogs. No prince yet.

Love is surrender into voluntary sacrifice.

Two years, more men, not him.

Third marriage; finally my soul mate

Girl friend took my husband. Yeah!

Married six month, now divorced. Oops!

First date, fortune cookie, happy ending!

We meet secretly, what a mess!

Boob job still no taker! Sob!

Prostitute credos: Love now pay later.

Love is not lottery! Trust me.

Pregnant, father unknown . . . Birth eagerly await!

six words? not enough, no wait!

Love of my life-forever gone

life’s fast, date night, no gas

Muse o’mine, Fifty-nine, Your devine.

high school! love school…no recess.

Words soothe. Actions confuse. Truth hurts.

Connection! Power! Ecstasy! Longing. . . . Distance . . . Nevermore.

Wanted: Emotionally Unavailable Man. Drama Provided.

Spied on Metro, Now dream fodder.

Not many would have done this.

Is the ideal intimidating for you?

If only friendship could be enough.

so close, and yet, so far.

Narcissist plus histrionic equals therapy time.

Loved you. Left you. Found me.

Gay or straight. It’s the same.

Gay with partner. State non-recognition. Sucks.

Should have ended before it started.

Wishing life were a Bollywood film.

“Crutches of denial Make life bearable.”

Punctuated sentences of silence betrayed us.

He brought doughnuts. I was sold.

Seven dollar wedding. Twenty-four priceless anniversaries.

Promise? We did. Until we die.

Will you? We did. Until Death.

One Ceremony. Twenty-five Anniversaries. True Love.

Chronically disappointed in nobody but myself.

It’s love–farewell, match.com.

More than willing-can’t help myself.

Time reveals tried, tested true love.

Six years, two kids, still smiling.

Loving, but not being loved : agony.

I love him. He loves her.

Love blinds you to everything.

How could I be so wrong?

First, we’re friends. And now lovers.

Going to marry my first love.

Blue and black. Never going back.

The key for me: gender neutrality.

Adored then; met again; married – sublime

40 years married.40 more please!

The best place in the world.

never stop working towards SAME GOALS!

Not Mr. Right, Mr. Right now.

Lost twice, no baggage, awaiting charmer.

Wedding planned, but I’d rather elope.

Love’s labor not lost, found again.

Maybe in another life …

Eyes that met and stayed connected.

first “I love you” during break-up

Met online. Email daily. Visit occasionally.

Ex called to say he’s engaged.

Heartbroken twice, do I risk thrice?

Third husband, best yet, lasting love.

For me, it’s always, “bad timing.”

Past unremarkable. Future uncertain. Present unbelievable.

Long marriage. Great shoes. Both fit!

In love, medical school. Must honor.

Being Bored With You Is Fun

Dozen red, Dozen white: All returned.

Love lost. Love found. Bored again.

Cupids careless shooting slowly kills

Crashed a party. Fell in love.

Living with him, loving another.

Commercially driven love, high expectations, disappointment.

She likes LOST and Battlestar Galactica!

After infatuation comes tedium. Comes love.

man up, call me, screw texting.

You can leave your toothbrush here.

Yes, you are better than crabcakes.

Suddenly, I daydream, wonder, wish: you.

Yes, exponentially, I am that lucky.

Love, holding hands, our fingerprints mesh.

Together, especially when you, you, you!

Sun, earth, moon, water, wind; you.

I do, I said, you did.

She farts, evidently, I love her.

You left behind clothes, magazines, me.

Hello? Hello? It’s me. I’m sorry.

I only have six words to…

Never told her was still married.

First Love, Last Love: Best Love

finding decent date in dc? hahahaha

No Tools Required: Heartbreak finally repaired.

Just ANOTHER day. Bitter… Not Really! …drink.

Black Lesbian + DC = Loneliness

I was trying to be something.

I’m warm. Sometimes I see you.

I’m okay, lonely, but I’m okay.

Happy Valentine’s Day Book World. Whoops!

Passable husband, but precious, precious child.

Husband is in-laws’ ATM. No peace.

Blind date. Not great. Long married

Emphasizes loneliness. Ruins next day birthday.

best friend. love him, not husband.

and I, without you, am not.

So who’s this “Robert Langdon” guy?

You call this love? You’re weird.

Me, earth, stars? Inadequate for him.

“He was a dem’ fine fellow!”

Lives intertwined tho you’re not mine.

Married another, but still love him.

Your cheating? My ticket to freedom.

Soul mate is typically not yourself.

we met, sparks, confusion, solitude, separation

You’re cute, never sell yourself short.

Amar a Morir – lovely soundtrack. (YOUtube).

Big cat, bigger mouth, biggest heart.

Remember son, settle down, marry up.

Love never lasted . . . until I did

Old. Boring. Dissatisfied. Both of us.

Star bright, you are, just right.

A tryst, a trial, love unbridled.

Kathy’s garden grows love … her Gardner.

I hope she was worth it.

So long Together Can’t Quit now

Pawned his wedding ring; bought drugs.

Two commitment-phobes,six years, avoiding togetherness.

Wanted marriage. What did I know?

Passion dies but love lives on.

More fun to share the bed

Good in bed; bad at relating.

Love, finally. Grateful. Even if unrequited.

Ten years. Long-distance. Finally together.

Deaf guy, deaf gal . . . booom! Love!

We kissed; I flew to Congo.

Loved. Lost. Drank. Cried. Still hope.

Broken heart; shattered spirit. Still hope.

Eloped fourth date, Seventeenth Valentine’s Anniversary

found loves boaders in falling waters

Smart. Sassy. Single. Seeking Similar Senior.

We flirted, confided. You married, secretly.

Hot. Breathless. Dizzy. You cheated.

unexpected surprise, mutually spontaneous, effortlessly synapsed

I answered his compelling personal ad.

Thought I’d get over him. Haven’t.

Haven’t really clicked with anyone lately.

Romance is dead; marriage killed it.

Going fast in wrong direction.

Worried I’ll love the dog more.

Married a cook; dieting now.

so broke; yet surrounded by love

I got sick; he got scared.

True love, mid-life. At last.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll finally say hello.

So relieved he’s 2500 miles away.

More fun with than without you.

He said he’d call. Still waiting.

Dead wife. Broken engagement. Renewed hope.

Six words? Only need one: mmmph!!

Me or the cat? Me out.

Age 23. Never dated. Soon, please?

Mom has cancer. Love can wait.

It seems nobody wants an anorexic.

My psychiatrist’s in love with me

He loves me not. Peace out!!!

Wanted: Eight pair baby shoes; Earplugs.

Middle age approaches, but hope springs eternal.

Never dated, kissed. Date Lab, help!

Widowed young. Ghastly remarriage. Marking time.

He died so I can live!

Greek girl. My swollen Anglo heart!

Tread softly, a dream lies here.

Descartes, about his crush: “Whenever I see her, I…” (poof)

Miss hon, my love. Stupid cancer.

February 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 3:46 am
February 11, 2009

A Birth Control Pill That Promised Too Much

Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals has just introduced a new $20 million advertising campaign for Yaz, the most popular birth control pill in the United States.

But the television ads, now running during prime-time shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and on cable networks, are not typical spots promoting the benefits of a prescription drug. Instead, they warn that nobody should take Yaz hoping that it will also cure pimples or premenstrual syndrome.

As part of an unusual crackdown on deceptive consumer drug advertising, the Food and Drug Administration and the attorneys general of 27 states have required Bayer to run these new ads to correct previous Yaz marketing.

Regulators say the ads overstated the drug’s ability to improve women’s moods and clear up acne, while playing down its potential health risks. Under a settlement with the states, Bayer agreed last Friday to spend at least $20 million on the campaign and for the next six years to submit all Yaz ads for federal screening before they appear.

“You may have seen some Yaz commercials recently that were not clear,” an actress says in the new corrective television spot, as she looks into the camera. “The F.D.A. wants us to correct a few points in those ads.”

Yaz is the best-selling oral contraception pill in the United States, with sales last year of about $616 million or about 18 percent market share, according to IMS Health, a health care information company.

Critics of consumer drug advertising say that while the F.D.A. sends a few dozen letters each year asking drug companies to suspend, amend or correct informational pamphlets and videos, it is unusual for the government to require commercials to set the record straight.

“They rarely require these corrective campaigns,” said Judy Norsigian, the executive director of Our Bodies Ourselves, a health education and women’s advocacy group in Cambridge, Mass. But she said the popularity of the Yaz brand and the misleading ads had demanded a rare punishment. “These ads should never have been out there,” Ms. Norsigian said.

Representatives of the F.D.A., and the Florida attorney general, who led the states’ effort, declined requests for phone interviews. They released a joint statement on Monday in which they said, in part, they wanted to “clean up misleading advertising in the marketplace.”

California, Texas, Massachusetts and Michigan were among other states in the settlement, in which Bayer did not admit that it had engaged in deceptive advertising or committed any wrongdoing.

A Bayer spokeswoman responded to a query with an e-mail message. “The ad for Yaz was revised to more clearly state the indications for Yaz,” she wrote, adding that no one from Bayer was available for a phone interview to answer other questions on Tuesday.

The corrective television commercials, which began appearing two weeks ago, are scheduled to run until July 26. New print ads, in national magazines like Lucky and Elle, give detailed information about Yaz, but do not indicate they are meant to correct earlier television ads.

The F.D.A. first moved against the Yaz campaign last October, with a warning letter to Bayer saying that two television ads overstated the drug’s benefits while understating its risks. By giving consumers the impression that Yaz was generally a drug for acne and general mood problems, the company’s ads ran afoul of federal laws against promoting the unapproved uses of a drug, the F.D.A. said. The agency approved Yaz in 2006 as a birth control pill that has a side benefit in treating mood-related psychological problems called premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

In 2007, the agency approved another side benefit of Yaz, that of improving moderate acne. But Yaz contains drospirenone, a progestin that can cause excess potassium production in some patients, its side effects include an increased risk of serious heart and other health problems.

After the F.D.A. complained, Bayer halted the Yaz ads. The agency told Bayer to submit a media plan for a corrective message that would reach the same size and kind of television audiences as the misleading ads did.

The Bayer affair comes at a delicate moment for the pharmaceutical industry. Some of the most popular branded drugs are nearing patent expirations that will open the doors to generic competition, so many big-name drug makers now rely heavily on direct-to-consumer advertising.

Critics charge that the F.D.A. division that oversees drug promotion, with a staff of 52 people, cannot keep up with the tens of thousands of marketing and advertising items produced annually by drug manufacturers. The Yaz controversy may raise new questions about whether that oversight is sufficient.

Aimed primarily at women in their 20s, Yaz has been known for its slogan — “Beyond Birth Control” — which promotes it not only for pregnancy prevention but as a lifestyle drug.

In one of the commercials cited by the F.D.A., with the song “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister playing in the background, a series of young fashionably dressed women kicked away or punctured floating signs with labels like “irritability” and “feeling anxious.” Meanwhile, a voiceover promoted Yaz as a “pill that goes beyond the rest,” with benefits like the ability to maintain clear skin.

The other commercial, set to the tune “Goodbye to You” by the Veronicas, shows a variety of women next to balloons — marked “headaches,” “acne” and “feeling anxious” — which float away, presumably after treatment with Yaz.

“The ad is basically speaking to a majority of menstruating women,” and not to the minority of women with the psychological problem for which Yaz is approved, said Dr. Nada L. Stotland, a professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical Center in Chicago and the president of the American Psychiatric Association.

For 2008 during which the ads in question were broadcast on television, sales of Yaz in the United States increased to about $616 million, from about $262 million the year before, according to IMS Health.

This is not the first time that health groups and government officials have faulted birth control commercials as being misleading. In 2003, the F.D.A. sent a warning letter to Berlex Laboratories faulting its ads for Yasmin, the precursor to Yaz, for implying the pills were superior to other oral contraceptives and for minimizing risks specific to the drug.

Bayer, which acquired Berlex as part of a deal in 2006, now markets Yasmin. Last year, Yasmin had sales of about $382 million, or about 11 percent of the United States market, according to IMS Health.

Bruce L. Lambert, a professor of pharmacy administration at the University of Illinois at Chicago, lauded the F.D.A. for insisting this time that Bayer run a corrective advertising campaign. But he referred to the corrective $20 million ad campaign for Yaz as “chump change” and “just the cost of doing business.”

“I don’t think it is likely to stop,” he said, “unless there are more significant consequences.”


Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 3:43 am

Has Rihanna’s Privacy Been Violated? 

Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:30 PM | By Jessica Grose 

Feministing writer Samhita Mukhopadhyay is up in 

arms because the Los Angeles Times published 

Rihanna’s name as Chris Brown’s accuser. For those 

of you who missed it, Brown, Rihanna’s boyfriend, 

was arrested Sunday for felony domestic violence. 

Mukhopadhyay argues that Rihanna’s privacy has 

been violated and also posits that Rihanna “is a 

model to young women and they are affected by how 

she responds to this problem. This is a tremendous 

amount of pressure for anyone, let alone a young 

woman who is a victim of domestic violence.” 

Let’s start with the first point, which is that Rihanna’s 

privacy has been violated. Most newspapers do not 

print the accuser’s name in sexual and domestic 

assault cases without the victim’s permission, though 

it’s Slate media guru Jack Shafer’s anecdotal sense 

that the press tide has been turning on the naming of 

accusers in recent years. In the American Journalism 

Review, Geneva Overholser, Missouri School of 

Journalism professor and the Pulitzer prize winner 

for a series on rape, argues that “in the long run, we’ll never get rid of the stigma if we 

don’t treat these like regular crimes. … It’s just not ethical to make a choice about guilt or 

innocence, which is effectively what we do. It makes us look like we are assuming 

innocence on one part, guilt on another. … We should not be determining who deserves 

our protection.” It’s also worth reiterating that this is a domestic violence case, and not a 

sexual assault case, and from what I’ve seen it’s much more common for newspapers to 

print the names of domestic assault accusers than rape accusers. 

But more practically, Rihanna is globally known as Chris Brown’s girlfriend. The second 

Brown’s arrest for domestic violence was publicized, the world would know that Rihanna 

was the accuser. To gingerly dance around her name would be ignoring the 800-pound 

gorilla in the room to a nearly absurd degree. 

As for the notion that Rihanna is going to be thrust into the position of unwilling poster 

child for domestic violence, I think that is a byproduct of the sort of squeaky-clean 

celebrity image she’s so carefully constructed. And besides, as Jo-Ann Armao noted in 

the Washington Post two years ago, shame is for criminals. If Rihanna’s the paid and 

willing poster child for CoverGirl, Totes umbrellas, Clinique, and Secret Deodorant, is it so 

terrible for her to be encouraged to speak out against domestic violence as well? 

February 6, 2009

Hey, that guy looks familiar…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 4:02 am


February 5, 2009

I love this!- from gawker.com

Filed under: Uncategorized — ajdoesdc @ 10:11 pm

Five Possible Boardgame-to-Movie Adaptations

  • Universal announced today that they’re planning a live-action movie version of the game Candy Land. You read that right. Ridley Scott’s working on a Monopoly movie. So what boardgames could be next? Let’s speculate.

    Chutes & Ladders
    Logline: Speed Racer meets Rollerball meets Contact in this high-octane thrill ride, which depicts a futuristic sports league of zooming “Wormhole Surfers.” Set against the backdrop of a dystopian megalopolis planet of towering skyscrapers, the film stars Shia LaBeouf as Zax, a rebellious young punkster who takes on the corrupt leadership of the Wormhole Surfing League… feet first.
    Chinese Checkers
    Logline: Set on the perilous North Korean border, Clive Owen stars in this searing political thriller about the daring maneuvers made when trying to smuggle North Korean defectors into glorious freedom. Partly based on this National Geographic article.
    Hungry Hungry Hippos
    Logline: Comedy legends Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy team up again in this irreverent comedy. Lawrence and Murphy, with the help of an amazing makeup and special effects team, play Rae’niqua and Dwee’shawna Hippo, two Atlanta sisters who are, ahem, large and in charge! When a nasty real estate developer (Christopher McDonald) threatens to force them out of their grandmama’s house, they enter an eating contest to raise the funds to save their home! Along the way their friends and neighbors learn that it’s what inside that counts, and that you should never judge a book by its (very large!!) cover.
    Logline: Slumdog Millionaire meets Agent Cody Banks. International sensation Dev Patel plays Dev Parcheesi, MI6’s youngest (and hippest) agent. Assigned to a top secret mission in his native India, Agent Parcheesi travels home. To see his disapproving family, and to save the day! An evil tycoon known only as Shiva (Naseeruddin Shah) is rounding up local children and forcing them to work as slaves in his video game factory. It’s up to Parcheesi to get the kids ‘home’ (just like in the game) and to apprehend Shiva. It all culminates in a thrilling virtual reality climax. At the end all the ladies will be shouting “Parcheesi!!”
    Logline: When Lincoln (Tom Welling), Alissa (Sophia Bush), Manning (Kellan Lutz), and Charlie (Ashley Tisdale) traveled to Alissa’s uncle’s cabin in northern Michigan, they thought they were in for a weekend of partying and foolin’ around. They were wrong. Dead wrong. A maniacal mastermind will pit them against each other in the most important game of all… survival. As they’re forced to kill each other, they’ll all be very Sorry they ever left Pennington University in the first place.

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