Monthly Archives: March 2011

Hiatus

Fishin

Blogging will be very light for the next couple months (until June or July, 2011). I will, though, be bookmarking web pages in delicious and occassionally tweeting.

I encourage you to subscribe to this blog by RSS or email, or bookmark the site in your browswer.

Posting will resume with gusto in the (northern hemisphere) summer!

Editor of Modern Love Column: “Hard Stuff” More Interesting than Romance

Daniel Jones, the editor behind the insanely popular Modern Love column, talks about trends in submissions:

What is the one relationship theme or essay topic that you see over and over?

I see a lot about Facebook.

Really?

That’s got to be the single most written-about topic. It’s just invaded modern life so much that people can’t get away from it. The more surprising thing I see a lot of for a column called “Modern Love” is people being diagnosed with and dying of cancer. It’s gotten to the point where it becomes a red flag, something to avoid. When I’m reading, where I get to that line of “and then he was diagnosed,” or “and she was stage 4,” whatever… It sounds horrible to say it, but, really, there’s just way too much of it.

Have you seen a shift in the trends of the topics you see, from when you first started the column?

In the past year, I got a bunch of stories about people dealing with siblings – or friends, or lovers – who were dealing with going through gender changes and surgeries – like, people whose daughters became sons. That’s not something I saw any of for years. I think the public acceptance of that has shifted, at least in what I see in what people are willing to talk about publicly.

And this on romance vs. the hard stuff:

Do you consider yourself a romantic person?

Umm… I don’t think I’m all that romantic. I think I have romantic dreams about what my life should be, but I’m not getting all excited about Valentine’s Day or anything.

Then, do you think it’s at all ironic that you’re the editor of a column about love?

I think it’s just more about how complicated human relationships are. I pretty much equate romance with naiveté, you know, before “the hard stuff.” And I’m more interested in the hard stuff.

Las Vegas: Authentically Unauthentic

Lasvegas

I recently spent a long weekend in Las Vegas. The buffets were outstanding, the weather warm and pleasant, and the hotels stunning. (I hadn't been there in probably 10 years — a lot has changed.) But the main reason Las Vegas was a surprisingly relaxing city to spend time in is because it is a city that's authentically unauthentic.

When you visit New York City, you worry about whether you are being a tourist, about whether you are doing as the locals do. Same with visiting Paris, Rome, London. But in Las Vegas, everybody is a tourist. Anybody who's not a tourist works in the tourism/hospitality industry. There is no real thing. It's fake all the way to the bottom. The very idea of a sprawling, water guzzling city that sits in the middle of barren desert is too absurd to take seriously.

There was no sin for me in Sin City, but I still found it a nice place to spend a few days in the winter to overeat, have my photo taken in front of the Effiel Tower, walk the strip, and lie by the pool.

Being Wrong vs. Realizing You’re Wrong

Most profound (to me) question at TED: "What does it feel like to be wrong?"

audience answered: bad, embarrassing, awful, etc

"You're answering a different question: what does it feel like to *realize* you're wrong?"

Actually *being* wrong doesn't feel like anything at all. It feels just like being right.

That's from John Lilly's Twitter feed, reflecting on the TED conference.

Imagine No Self-Censorship

Scott Adams has a "winning" post on Charlie Sheen:

Imagine if you stopped filtering everything you said and did. You'd have to be in Charlie Sheen's unique position to get away with it, but just try to imagine yourself living without self-censorship. Wouldn't you sound crazy?

Imagine you are so unafraid of consequences and the opinions of other people that you start sentences before you have a plan for how they will end. Sometimes a sentence turns out well, and sometimes you compare yourself to tigers and mythological gods.

I think Charlie is fascinating because he's living without fear. That translates into a disturbing degree of honesty. And at the moment it gives him an amazing amount of power over the media, which he is using to his advantage.

I can't judge his mental health. And clearly he has a drug issue that will last a lifetime. But I also think that a total lack of fear would look like insanity to the casual observer. And perhaps it is. But it's a strangely great kind of crazy.

Friends: People Who Have the Same Flaws as Us

Anne Lamott:

A person's faults are largely what make him or her likable. I like for narrators [of novels] to be like the people I choose for friends, which is to say that they have a lot of the same flaws as I. Preoccupation with self is good, as is a tendency toward procrasination, self-delusion, darkness, jealousy, groveling, greediness, addictiveness. They shouldn't be too perfect; perfect means shallow and unreal and fatally uninteresting. I like for them to have a nice sick sense of humor and to be concerned with important things, by which I mean that they are interested in political and psychological and spiritual matters. I want them to know who we are and what life is all about. I like them to be mentally ill in the same sorts of way that I am; for instance, I have a friend who said one day, "I could resent the ocean if I tried," and realized that I love that in a guy. I like for for them to have hope — if a friend or narrator reveals himself or herself to be hopeless too early on, I lose interest. It depresses me. It makes me overeat. I don't mind if a person has no hope if she or she is sufficiently funny about the whole thing, but then, this being able to be funny definitely speaks to a kind of hope, of buoyancy.

That's from her 1995 classic, Bird by Bird.