Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Are you a travel agent? Because you're taking me on a guilt trip." --Homer Simpson

It's not everyday you get asked this question:

Would economy flights work for you based on these dates or do you only fly business?

I struggled with my response for a while--"Of course I only fly business class! I don't mingle with the hoi polloi!" or "It's a pity you even have to ask"--but ultimately, my strong sense of morality mixed with a dash of guilt over taking advantage of a PR person who didn't just go ahead and book me economy class tickets on an eight-hour flight prevailed, and I replied, "Economy is fine."

And I'm not even Catholic, so I have no idea where this "do right by others" thing comes from.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Getting reacquainted

It’s hard for me to get excited about a trip down the to the Jersey shore. My first thoughts are: traffic, sand in my bum and having to tell people I’m spending a weekend at the Jersey shore. (They invariably always reply, “Oh, going to break out the Trans Am and pick up some guidos, eh?”)

But my last trip, in honor of Mariel’s 27th birthday, was different, and mostly because Jay, who hadn’t visited Jersey’s beaches since the tender age of eight, came with me. I don’t mean it to as sound as saccharine as it does—even if we ever break up he will be my travel companion of choice because he gets so excited about the littlest things—like skee ball, for instance—and it’s hard to not get caught up in his enthusiasm. (Another example: When we drove from Chicago to visit that other tri-state area of Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana last summer, the rental car company gave us a mini van. I could not have been more embarrassed; Jay however, could not get over what a smooth ride it was.)

We stayed at The Blue Water Inn, which is not nearly as nice as it appears in the photos, but it’s not a bad deal for a cheesy weekend down the shore. Because it had been so long since his last visit, Jay was eager to do it all in the small amount of time that we had. By the time we got to Ocean City, the boardwalk was closed, save for a few pizza places and arcades, which we obligingly hit up after first downing a few alcoholic beverages in our room, just like the glory days of prom weekend in high school. We played skee ball, a few games of air hockey and managed to avoid the temptation of Dance Dance Revolution, mostly because there were a couple of kids hanging around who we thought might kick our asses if we did. We also took part in the requisite black-and-white photo booth.

The following day we spent at the beach, followed by an evening barbeque at Mariel’s, where there were rounds of flip cups to be played after the gourmet food was cleared from the table. On our last day, we proceeded to eat our way down the boardwalk. (Pork roll for him, French fries for me; then fudge and fresh-squeezed lemonade. Mack & Manco's pizza came highly recommend, but we both passed, as it also looked highly greasy.) The only item on the checklist we missed was mini golf.

On the way home, Jay made sure to tell me what a great time he had, but it wasn’t until I reflected on the trip later, by myself, that I realized I had a great time, too. I have been down the shore so many times I forgot how charming it could be if you treat each visit as if it were your first. I’m sure this concept can be applied to any place you visit regularly. Try it and you’ll be amazed at the fresh perspective it provides.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The self-pity of summer

What you see there is a picture of my computer screen. As Dashboard helpfully tells you, it was a gorgeous evening: 78 degrees and sunny, no humidity and--at only ten 'til eight--the night was still young; no doubt the perfect evening to round up some friends for an outdoor happy hour at Luna Park or Bull McCabes--which is exactly what everyone was doing--except me--who, for the last two weeks has been/continues to be chained to my desk because I'm so miserly that I'm incapable of saying no when someone waves a freelance check in my face, which accounts for why I was the sole person on IM that balmy evening last Thursday, July 12, at 7:50 p.m., a.k.a., the most depressing moment of my life in the last two weeks.*

(*Quite possibly the longest run-on sentence ever written.)

Monday, July 09, 2007

See Jane fold

The reason I do what I do is no more: Condé Nast is shuttering Jane magazine. Unlike other fallen mags, Jane won’t even see a life online.

The writers at Jane are the reason I got myself into this underpaid mess known as journalism. (Although granted, it's a far cry from where I am now--and now I'll never be able to recoup that loss. Sniff.) I wanted to possess their wit, frankness and penchant for snark (which, yes, actually existed before Gawker).

Even as a youngin' completely unknowledgeable of media dynamics, I was well aware of Jane's digressions the from mainstream: I subscribed to Jane because rather than badgering my impressionable teenage mind with 10 Ways To Lose Weight Fast!, Jane hosted columns called “Eat” and, unlike other women’s magazines, didn’t spew the usual drivel in their celebrity profiles (I particularly recall the Britney interview as a killer). You just can’t find that today—even in the magazine’s reincarnation under Brandon Holley, who replaced founding editor Jane Pratt after she left in 2005. (In fact, during my last mani/pedi, I read the issue with Zooey Deschenal on the cover, and while I appreciated the effort, the overall feeling was bleh.)

Which is why I’m ambivalent about Jane folding. Its glory days were over a long time ago, having succumbed to that wily devil otherwise known as Corporate America. I’m just a little sad at having lost the one magazine I once aspired to, as well as having one less semi-decent non-Cosmo-ish magazine on the rack to read. (Nylon, here I come.)

Once I win the lottery, I’ll be sure to restore Jane—and maybe even Sassy—to all its former radness. Until then, RIP.

Friday, July 06, 2007


I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but one of the web sites I occasionally freelance for comes up with some of the most ridiculously obvious articles:

How to make salad in a snap (What, like it’s hard?)
10 Surprisingly Sexy Dates: Play hooky, see R-rated art, try tapas (Why, it’s as if they tracked mine and Jay’s last three outings!)
Anti-American Sentiment: Residents of the rest of the world are taking an increasingly dim view of the U.S., its foreign policy and its president in particular, a new poll shows. (Hasn’t everyone been saying this for the last three years?)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Ho-hum and twiddle-dee-dee

It's the day after a holiday and because I spent said holiday working in front my computer for eight hours straight doing self-inflicted freelance work, I refuse to actually accomplish anything at the day job today, which led me to scouring my e-mail for All The Fun Things I've Missed Because I've Been Too Busy. To wit, my writer-crush Larry Dobrow's Magazine Rack column. My friends and I in the "biz" regularly find ourselves debating the enduring strength of print versus this new-age Internets stuff. I think Larry sums it up quite well. A reader asks and Mr. Dobrow responds.

"Please tell me how long it will be before the Internet kills magazines completely. The reason I'm asking is because I have about ten years left of my working life, and I want to know if I should switch careers now or if I'll be good to go at my magazine job until 2017?

Are you sure it's just ten? Aren't we all going to have to work into our 90s after Social Security bites it within the next decade or so? You could always dodge this by dying young, I suppose.

Magazines will always be around, because we need something to read in the airport terminal and on the toilet. And let's not fall in with conventional wisdom and portray the Internet as the publishing world's hobgoblin. Why, just yesterday I saw "Live Free Or Die Hard," which depicted an ever-realistic scenario where the Internet could be taken down with the snap of some baddie's fingers. Believe everything you see on the big screen, and viva la print."


P.S. All three of you who read this blog regularly can expect more pointless and self-serving blogs such as this for the next two months, as my travel schedule has lightened considerably until September. That is, unless the Jersey Shore and Schaumburg, IL count. Hurrah!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Back to my blogging roots

Quite possibly the most depressing article ever, mostly because it statistically confirms what I've always suspected. Were I not so delirously happy in my current relationship (apparently we've still got a good two years left in us), this would certainly be the article to resurrect The Dish.

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