Thursday, November 30, 2006

Open Letter to My New Crush

Dear Today Show Music Guy (or Gal),

I know I don't know you, and you don't know me, but I think I have a crush on you. I hear little snippets of songs you've picked for segments, and I can't help but fantasize about you sitting in the control room, picking out perfect songs, and maybe being somewhat bitter that most people watching won't understand the connection. You don't know it, but I get you and respect your craft.

Like today's segment (featuring my girl crush Stacy London) on at-home services for clothes shopping and beauty treatments, you picked "Call on Me" by Eric Prydz. I found that very clever and catchy. Not only did I drive my co-workers insane by humming it all day (those morning songs tend to stick in my head), I actually looked it up on Wikipedia and learned the very cute story behind the song. Then I went home and downloaded it.... Um, and the original song it sampled, "Valerie" by Steve Winwood.

It's not just the obvious songs that I get, though. During that same fashion segment, you played the first few instrumental bars of Jay-Z's "Change Clothes." Love it. (And I very much like Jay-Z, so, see, that's already something we have in common.)

So, if you see this post, make sure to play Blondie's "Call Me" on the show next week. No one else will get it, but we will.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Prize Publicist

Here at Typing Pool I like getting mail -- perhaps a little too much. That's why on the off day when there's actually a letter in my electronic mailbox (and not just vast emptiness, which causes me to frown, kick a pebble, and drag my sneaker toes as I walk away in defeat), I get pretty happy.

But this e-mail was a first because (and I am not making this up) I got an excellent pitch from a publicist. Not only was it good, it was so well-targeted that I couldn't NOT write about it. Clearly, some publicist has been burning the midnight oil. Get out your Big Chief tablets, kids, and jot this down: A certain publicist whose name I will protect at Freud Communications here in the city deserves a big, fat raise. When I opened my inbox a couple of weeks ago (hey, I've been traveling), therein lay an extremely coherent, well-written pitch, complete with legible PDFs (legible PDFs!) about a story Details magazine ran in its December issue about the new yuppie scum that's crawling all over our fair island. For those of you who've read Typing Pool um, at ALL, you know that this is exactly the type of thing I write about: rich people stink, overprivilege comes with a complimentary idiot license, where's my piece of the pie, yadda, yadda, yadda. As someone who has worked, ahem, closely with publicists during my short career, I know that there's a difference between the not-so-bright publicist who could care less what she's doing so long as she gets free swag and the publicist who thinks for a living. Freud publicist, you've impressed me, and I'm taking your bait just because I think you done good.

Oh, yeah, about the article: Yuppie scum sucks. They sucked in the 1980s, and they doubly suck now because they're unironic parodies of themselves whom their parents would have despised when they were the new yups' age. Especially if they think a $600 Coach bag is going to make their sycophantic lives more livable. Not that I have anything against wanting to live well (I have a 401(k), and I'd like to have something to show for these working-my-tush-off years), but there is something wrong with wrapping yourself up so thoroughly in your image that your image actually becomes your personality. (Hear that, hipsters?)

Details has a few good essays in this piece. Jeff Gordinier's article stands out, and the charticle that's supposed to be some sort of self-assessment is lame and confusing, but the art/fashion/photo departments get big kudos from me for dressing three male models up to be three different incarnations of a yuppie, which (to me) look like: hipster, gay, and gayer. It's good for a laugh and some effeminate fashion tips.

Thanksgiving Haze

This is just a quick post to let y'all know that I'm back from the Midwest and will be blogging again shortly. (Apparently my jaunt to the Heartland has awarded me the ability to say "y'all" unironically.)

To come within the next few days on Typing Pool:

- PR people who have been working way too many late nights

- Homeland Security: biased against unassuming blond women with cheap bags?

- Tips on surviving a Midwestern buffet and scoring a plate of biscuits and gravy as your booty

Feel the excitement of my return. Oh, yes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Ben Stein Rocks

I read the weirdest personal finance column today.

Yahoo! Finance has a few rotating columnists, including my beloved Suze Orman, the guy who writes the Automatic Millionaire stuff, and Ben Stein (as in "Bueller? Bueller?," Clear Eyes commercials, and the Nixon administration). Here's the specific part of Ben's column today that I found completely odd yet absolutely true:

I'm 61, and have many friends who are roughly the same age. In fact, most of my friends range in age from 50 to around 65. Some of them are far happier and more self-confident than others. Some of them have plans to go places, play golf, take photos of exotic lands.

That's some of them. The others are in fear, afraid to leave their houses, afraid to think of growing old -- just plain afraid.

I can think of two major differences between the ones who are successful and the ones who are not. The first difference is that the confident group did not disable themselves by drug use or excessive alcohol use.

It's an amazing thing, but it's true: The men and women I know who have spent a lot of time smoking pot have, by and large, thrown their lives away in the pursuit of feeling no pain. There are exceptions, but typically they can barely get out of bed, let alone pursue a career aggressively or save in a disciplined way. Basic, long-term sobriety seems to me a precondition for a successful life, and certainly a precondition -- in most cases -- for a life of prudence as far as money is concerned. The man or woman lost in marijuana-induced bliss cannot and will not be able to evaluate investment options and pick the best ones -- it's that simple. One of the many blessings of sobriety is to be able to invest sensibly.

After I read that, I thought to myself, "I knew there was a reason I've never done illicit drugs! Take that, college friends who mocked me for being a goody two-shoes!" But then I realized something: Most of the heavy pot-smokers I knew several years ago aren't doing a whole lot with themselves these days. They're still hanging around their hometowns or their careers aren't as bright and shiny as they could be. Also, let's take the Us Weekly angle (and, yes, this a stretch, but let me argue it): Jennifer Aniston is rumored to be a heavy pot smoker, and what does she do on her time off? Hides in her house, chain-smokes cigarettes, calls her friends to consult with them on every little thing, and generally comes off as this timid ice queen who's neither extremely likeable nor extremely bankable.

Makes sense in the context of Ben's article.

I was so taken with his piece that I e-mailed him a short question about it. And, guess what? He e-mailed me back. I'm not even talking the next week or even the next day. Within a couple of hours of sending my initial e-mail, I got a short, to-the-point response from him. Okay, put me down as an instant fan. But at the same time, I wasn't surprised. He seems like a stand-up guy, and he is one. It's just that simple.

Also, speaking of Us Weekly, I was puttering around on Ben's website, and I found this 2003 article he wrote about the baseline vapidity of celebrity culture and what really matters in life. Whatever your political views or religious beliefs (and I don't necessarily agree with everything he says), you've got to admit he has a point that I think most of us -- especially in New York -- could stand to hear a little more often.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

OMG, OMG: Kevin and Britney are Splitsville

This just in (six hours ago): Britney Spears filed for divorce from Kevin Federline. And that apparently merited a "breaking news" update from in the middle of this election day. Classic. And even my usually reserved office went all atwitter, chain-reaction-whisper-style when we heard the news this afternoon.

Without knowing the specifics of B and K's last moments together (I so cannot wait for my Us Weekly tomorrow), I just want to say this: I don't want to heap "I told you sos" and "Finallys" on Britney. As cynical as I usually am about early marriage, stupid girls, and having babies while one is a baby oneself, I do feel a twinge of support and relief for her.

True, Britney will never be brightest bulb on the marquee sign, but have a little empathy. After all, haven't we all gone "slumming" at one point in our lives for a guy/gal who was super-artsy or super-self-assured or just super-sexy? And didn't we swear to ourselves it was just about sex or hookups or fun, but in the back of our minds we kinda hoped it would work out? And haven't we all tried to pound a square peg into a round hole that just won't change no matter how many of the hole's liquor bottles we throw out or ladies' numbers we delete from the hole's cell phone or comments of the hole's that we try to ignore even as we're slumping down at a dinner party, embarrassed for ourselves and the way things have turned out?

That's Britney. And she was sheltered from the world. All the people who should have told her he's a loser, that he's a bad idea, that he's fun for a tour but maybe not for life, were cashing paychecks signed by Britney. Go up against the boss? Probably not -- if you value your job, that is. Also, what other boys was Britney meeting? Guys in boy bands? Oh, wait, check. Actors? Check. And we all saw how well those turned out. A backup dancer probably didn't seem like a bad option in her mind, especially one who was kinda dangerous and smoked cigarettes and cursed. That'll give an isolated young girl a shiver any day of the week.

But she (she -- not Kevin, that's for sure) held it together for two years. That deserves at least a smattering of applause.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Little Things Count (Especially in New York)

Want random camaraderie among New Yorkers? After this weekend, I say either give them "Project Runway" or give them booze.

On Saturday afternoon I went out of the way-wrong exit of Macy's (after getting myself lost, which is pretty much par for the course where Macy's and I are concerned) only to find a window display of the winning runway collection by Jeffrey Sebelia of "Project Runway" on the building's south side. Now, realize this: Only the very, very hardcore PR fans are going to be caught dead gawking for long periods of time at a rack of miniature size-zero clothes in a window. That subset includes me. Within minutes, I was having the PR conversations of my life: "I wanted Uli to win," I said dejectedly to the streetwise girl to my left. She thought for a second and then turned to me excitedly. "Uli," she said, "stepped outside her box. [Streetwise girl mimed a box shape.] Michael...fell OFF!" [Streetwise girl made a "falling off" motion with her hands.]

I took a moment to leave a realtime voice mail for my only friend who would truly appreciate the full impact of PR in person. In that time, a thirtysomething woman and her gay friend came upon the display. "I thought he showed this with a skirt," gay guy said, gesturing toward a striped blazer. "No," thirtysomething woman said, "he was going to show this with shorts, but he switched it to pants at the last minute." "That's right," I said, joining in (naturally). The three of us admired Jeffrey's blue frocks and then examined the seams on his denim jacket. "There's no way he sewed them himself," gay guy said. "Definitely," thirtysomething woman said. "That's the work of the Asian woman who's making five cents an hour." I nodded in solidarity. "But this is all very Jean Paul Gaultier," gay guy said. Maybe. I still think the cherry print looks cheesy and busted. But that's just this Midwestern girl's opinion.

Friday night, I went out with Red, which is always a damn good time. Red somehow makes sure that everyone around us on our nights out together is included in our conversations-- in our night. I'll sit and blush and giggle, and she'll carry on like it's her job. (Which, as a talent agent, it kind of is.) At our favorite wine bar, we couldn't help but notice a buxom middle-age blonde in a suit who was laughing far too loud for nine in the evening. But we ignored her, as good New Yorkers are wont to do. Soon thereafter, her bar buddy climbed off of his bar stool and his scarf may or may not have touched our table. (Big deal.) "Excuse me," he said politely. "It's okay; you have a cute butt," Red said. (You see? You see how she does this?) Before we knew it, we were toasting all three of the friends at the bar, including the buxom blonde. I didn't have any wine left in my glass (um, naturally), so the blonde stopped the toast in midair. "No one drinks alone," she said as she pulled my empty wine glass out of my hand and filled it with half of the wine from her glass. "To women at dinner alone!" she announced. And I smiled, and I clinked, and I drank whatever kind of succulent, fabulous red she had given me.

And I closed my eyes for about a third of a second, and I remembered how much I love New York.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Call the NYFD

I watched K-Fed (a.k.a. "America's Favorite Mistake") make an appearance on VH1's video countdown yesterday. As expected, nothing that came out of his mouth made any sense whatsoever. Host Aamer Haleem asked him about his album's title, Playing with Fire, and K-Fed said something incomprehensible, like, (and this is an indirect quote), "The press is always sayin' stuff about me, so this title, like... It could be their side, it could be my side." I think I speak for everyone when I say, "What?"

But then I got to thinking. Hmmm, I thought to myself. "Playing with Fire" sure sounds familiar.

One Google search later, I found it. K-Fed, as it turns out, is not the first one to title a revolutionary cultural vision "Playing with Fire":

(Cover text: "Can Jessica play Bruce Patman's game and win?")

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Clearly, I was late to the party on hearing the word "skintern," seeing as the news media caught on months ago, yet it was foreign to me until this week. The term, so I hear, was coined this past summer Washington, D.C. The Urban Dictionary defines it as "an overly underdressed intern."

I love the word because, come on, we've ALL seen them -- seemingly unaware that their boobs/thong/bra straps are hanging out for the office to see. Or are they really that oblivious...? (At the same time, though, I have to admit it's a pretty misogynistic word. No young men are ever going to be accused of being skinterns, and isn't giving scantily clad young women a funny nickname because of something they wear sort of backing up the whole, "Well, she dresses like a whore, so she must be a whore/incompetent/stupid" argument? But I digress. Plus, anyone entering a corporate environment should know that miniskirts and wifebeaters do not qualify as office attire.)

The Boyf actually introduced me to the term Wednesday evening as we were watching "30 Rock" (my new favorite show). I was cackling out loud as they showed a montage of the lithe, blond intern in outfits of descending appropriateness, right down to my personal favorite ensemble: boy-brief underwear and a poncho. When Tina Fey finally decides to talk to her about it, telling her she'll never succeed in the industry if she's not taken seriously, the Skintern delivers the best quote ever (and pardon me if I don't have this down to the letter): "Oh, I don't want to succeed in the industry. I want to marry rich and design handbags."

Okay, now I was officially rolling on the floor laughing.

I now wonder what each skintern I've ever seen is up to. I wonder if her thong is still peeking out of the top of her tight capri pants or if she's traded that look for a more "velour Juicy jumpsuit and giant diamond engagement ring" kind of style. Either way, I'll bet she's happy. If you can strut around wearing nothing and not realize your office is mocking you, you can sure as hell ignore the fact that your kids are your whole life, your husband is cheating on you, and you'll never look as good as you did at age 22.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Kaavya Keeps it Koming

I always enjoy a new Kaavya Viswanathan update (see my previous rants here): In the wake of her Plagiarism Spectacular, Viswanathan has joined a Kenyan AIDS crusade of sorts (backstory here), which is fabulous and fine and all, but I think that Viswanathan needs to familiarize herself with a term called "oversaturation."

Kaavya, sweetie? Let's have a chick-to-chick talk here: You had the opportunity to publish a book -- something that every red-blooded American citizen has fantasized about at some point in his or her life -- and you blew it. Big time. You made a mockery of book publishing, chick lit (if further possible), and yourself. Now is the time to go away. You are not a Hollywood celebrity. No one cares what cause you're supporting. You're not Reese Witherspoon; you don't need a sympathy vote. You're not Tom Cruise; you don't need to start making yourself appear "normal." When I watch this video, I don't think, "What a sweet, well-meaning girl." I think to myself, "Someone spoke to an image consultant."

In fact, your image-serving-yet-awareness-raising documentary makes me think of a concert I saw once.

Yes, it's coming to me now. Almost got it...