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Posts Tagged ‘People Magazine’

An Ernest Audience

I’d watch this crazy show!

I think that one of the most pressing questions that goes through my mind as a regular rider of public transit is this: How long can you look at a subway performer before you have to give him or her some money? What if they aren’t performing? What if they are flat out asking for money?

I’ve noticed that most people can’t help themselves but to look when the initial bass beat rings out or an individual bellows, “Excuse me ladies and gentlemen!” But if that glance is followed up with an immediate return to an open “New York Post,” no one expects anyone to hand over money. It’s the rest of us, the ones who become mesmerized, hangover or not, by the shrieking, jumping, gyrating or swinging taking obvious place within three feet of our eyeballs that no “People Magazine” article will be able to mask no matter how hard we try to ignore it.

There is no one gyrating in front of my face, swinging around a subway pole and doing high kicks next to my head. I am just casually reading my book about teenagers in a dystopian future. La di da…

But my concern extends beyond the New York City subway. I often wonder if someone out there knows what I’m watching, both on TV and on the Internet. And if they do, do they count the things that I am accidentally watching? As well as the things I accidentally mean to watch? Like, does Nielson count the number of people who flip past The Best Red Neck Wedding on their way to Nova or do they only count it if the flipper actually lands there for a period of time long enough to watch the bride get peed on by the donkey pulling the trailer? Which harkens the question: How long a period of time makes you a watcher of The Best Red Neck Wedding and not merely a curious glance-r over at it?

Standing ovation for these excellent dancers.

Yesterday I went to see Twilight 4b in the theater. I didn’t go alone and I didn’t draw bite marks on my neck or swoon every time Edward whispered Bella’s name. Instead I watched it “ironically,” making sure to laugh in that way that let’s everyone know I am watching, not necessarily embracing what is happening on the screen. It’s that knowing nasal laugh that makes me neither team Edward or Jacob, but team Laughing at Edward and Jacob. But I wasn’t really laughing at anything. I was earnestly watching that movie, commenting on the strength of Michael Sheen’s performance as the villain Aro, and how when juxtaposed against the porn-esque “acting” of the rest of the cast, it almost proved distracting – Like a glob of chocolate covered peanut butter in the middle of a bowl of salt-free chicken stock.

I liked the movie just like I liked the terrible books that preceded it. That’s the kind of audience member I am. I am committed and tend to watch from beginning to end with gusto. At almost every theater performance I attend, I give a standing ovation, whether or not it’s earned, because I figure, someone spent some time trying to entertain me in person. Somehow that feels as important as anything. And if- or okay, when – I watch you perform on the subway, it’s likely I’ll dig around for a dollar bill for your hat.

 


Fame and Fortune, or Just One of the Two

The Hope Diamond that I will buy next week.

This week, the Mega Millions lottery has reached $340 million dollars. Every time it reaches these outlandish amounts of money, my husband and I play the game where we decide what we are going to do with it when we win. I think the resulting breakdown tells a lot about our respective characters.

We always start by subtracting a little less than half for taxes. So for this week’s windfall we’re looking at just under 200M in take home dollars.

Aaron began by divvying it up among our families, allotting our siblings 2-5M a piece. He subsequently created trust funds for our nieces and nephews for college and beyond. This landed around 2M a piece.

As a good son, he gave all the parents including my mother a million. This time, because our fortune is going to be so large, he earmarked a select few good friends $500,000 each, then explained that they can also have whatever they want — cars, boats, new clothes. Obviously, he explained, if we go on vacation with them, we’ll pay.

Obviously.

I’m really glad my husband is so generous because my list started with an on-call masseuse and a beach house in Cabo. It ended with a privately owned tunnel system throughout the tri-state area to avoid rush hour traffic.

My name will fall somewhere under the “Now Showing” part.

I suppose this level of selfishness extends to most of the daydreaming I do. For example, I rarely meditate on the health and well-being of…anyone. But I do often plead with the universe for fame.

I know that I have already been interviewed on Q-FM96’s the Wags and Elliot show in Columbus, Ohio and one time I was a featured extra in Dune the Miniseries starring William Hurt (if you click on the link, start watching at 6:07. I am the “Mother.” Please inquire privately about autographs and special appearances). But I still hope that someday I will appear in “People Magazine,” and not because I escaped death during a natural disaster (but, frankly, I’ll take it).

There are a lot of ways a person can be famous. It’s important to be specific when asking the universe for celebrity, because things can go horribly wrong if a mistake is made. (Right, Anthony Weiner?)

I have already figured out a number of things I won’t be famous for: 1. Being the youngest to master something. 2. Mastering something. 3. Being fashion forward. 4. Starting a chain restaurant. (However, not for lack of some truly fantastic ideas including “3-Ways,” a restaurant that prepares dishes 3 ways: healthy, regular and really really bad for you. I know.)

While I am able to outline to the universe the myriad ways in which I hope to avoid fame or infamy including giving birth in a cab, giving birth to a litter (especially in a cab), becoming too fat to leave my house or accidentally triggering a series of events that lead to the breakdown of the power grid, my hopes for fame are really rather quite simple: I hope that I will someday sell so many copies of a book, I’ll get to go on Oprah for both a one-on-one interview as well as a follow up apology episode.

I want to achieve the kind of fame that lands me on a red carpet in a really beautiful dress I didn’t have to pay for. I want to help develop a recipe book based on the favorite foods of a character I wrote or wrote about. I want to swing by ILM and make sure the models they are building for the movie of my book properly reflect my vision for the alien colony (or, fine, pot island).

But before this gets too nerdy, let me just make one quick deal with the universe: If you give me the $340 million this week, I will totally give up the fame thing and go with my husband’s generous monetary allotments, forgoing the underground tunnel system. Kay. Thanks.


Naming Yourself (and Baby Blue Z-yonce)

Make a Wish.

A few days ago Beyonce and Jay-Z had a baby. Although the media might have reported otherwise, obsessed as they are this week with the word “Tebow” which (loosely) translated can either mean, “Tight pants, cute butt” or “Pointing at the sky makes God love you,” that isn’t what they named her. They named her Blue, a name of which I’m loath to make fun, having named my 2001 Jetta the same thing once on a long drive to San Francisco.

Jay-Z, because he is Jay-Z immediately released a single about the birth of his child. And Jay-Z, because he is Jay-Z, it turns out, wrote a really nice song. I mean, I tend to get embarrassed when people become overly sentimental in public, and this song doesn’t do that. (That’s my general if unsophisticated litmus test.) Here it is.

Lyrically it’s R-rated, peppered as it is with profanity and “adult themes.” But that isn’t why the kid shouldn’t hear it until after college. I mean, isn’t it hard enough when your parents are just normal, everyday, hard working folks? What kind of expectation is already on you just for waking up in the morning with the last name “Z-yonce?” And now, on top of it, there’s your gushing dad telling the world with some certainty that not only are you his baby, but you will be a “younger, faster, smarter” him?

Okay, young, she’s got. Nailed it, in fact. I have no idea how fast Jay-Z is since I googled his miles per minute and got some song lyrics about a violent gang attack that while disturbing, neither helps me, nor the future adult-Blue. So maybe she can win that one too. But Jay-Z is smart. I mean, I think he’s smart. He’s a really good rhymer and he owns one of the largest hip-hop/rap corporations in the world, so I’m figuring he isn’t an “I can spell t-o-m-a-t-o-e” kind of guy (again, another litmus test).

But how can we avoid being measured by our gene pool? After all, we’re measured by everything from our car to our breakfast selection (Scandinavia, I’m mostly talking to you). My father was a physician in his life – kind of like becoming a rock star for Jewish people. My mother was an early childhood educator. My sister and I were afforded liberal arts educations thanks to our parents, but came out, more or less confused. What were we?

Undergrad doesn’t give you a job title. Apprenticeships, professional degrees and joining the mafia do. Most of the people I know (myself in included) fell into unplanned careers, and even now as we sit perched behind some desk or other, we aren’t sure what we’re doing here, if we want to stay, and if we want to stay, how to do so.

I have been a professional writer for a few years now. If people need proof I can direct them to books, websites, and many other places where I repeat that I am a writer in public making it seem more real and less pathetic to all of us. However, on a daily basis I wonder how one sustains it.

After my first book was published, The Good Girl’s Guide to Living in Sin (Plug. Check.) I probably should have hung out my “Relationship Expert” sign. I could have become a girl who helps people write their dating profiles. I could have counseled wayward couples. I could have gotten invited to weddings and been toasted during the thank you speeches.

But then I sold a second book and it was a humor book. Suddenly I found myself unable to name myself “Relationship Expert.” Maybe I was a humorist. Maybe I was like a taller, less squeaky version of all of those NPR writers who get to be on the Brian Lehrer show and talk about politics and say funny things about binge eating.

However, by then, I was a writing a business book and you can see the conflict of interest inherent in a career that makes fun of everything and one that monetizes everything. So, again, I remained non-committal.

When pressed I would proclaim, “I’m a Writer. You know how Meryl Streep can play a feisty American editor or a crazy British politician? You wouldn’t pigeon hole that lady into always playing the ingenue. Well, I’m like that except on paper. Except…you know, minus a fan base, critical reception or like…general reception.”

Then one day I was offered two weeks, seven dollars and a Fun Pass to write The Stoned Family Robinson. All of the sudden I was writing fiction. My dream job! That’s who I was, a Fiction Writer! A Fiction Writer never has to commit to anything as long as they can get on Oprah! Just call me Jane Austin! Dostoyevsky, anyone?

But when the book came out, rather than getting the coveted National Book Award, an interview with Terry Gross or even a must-read mention in People Magazine, I got a blurb in High Times and a blog on Celebstoner. I became a pot expert. An expert in pot. A coveted position to be sure, but again, not one I was certain I knew how to represent.

There is a difference between naming yourself an expert and being named one. In my case, I was nudged but never flung face first into any title. Therefore, those last steps, choosing to call myself a pot expert, a relationship guru or a marketing genius, well, other than dressed in scathing sarcasm, I just didn’t have the confidence or gene pool to back it up.

I am still searching for my title. Baby Z-yonce is going to have it just as tough if not tougher. But with every breath, every song, every book, I suppose we’re getting closer, she and I – and in the meantime, if we’re lucky, enjoying the ride.