Sarah Silverman: "Nothing’s more attractive than an unending monologue about your shortcomings."
Carolyn Hax: "Sometimes surrendering to the awful is more useful than fighting it."
Graham Joyce: "why can’t our job here on earth be simply to inspire each other?"
Dan Harmon: "I believe in magic. I believe in mythology. I believe in shamanism. I believe that spells can be cast and I believe that random things coalesce and reveal themselves to be part of a plan we don’t control, you know."
Nora Ephron: "Never turn down a front-row seat for human folly."
McAlvie "The ultimate downfall of modern civilization won't be war; it'll be Twitter and Facebook."
Jenny Zhang: "A lot of writers swear by routine, but I swear by chaos. There’s enough fucking routine in my life. Every day I have to brush my teeth. Every day I have to smile at strangers. Every day I have to worry about money. Every day I want something I can’t have. Every day I find some way to go on! I know that writing every day for an hour would help me tremendously with writer’s block, but I also know that I need an element of wildness in my writing. I need to know that writing is something I do because it sets me free. It makes me feel golden with confidence. It gives me the gift of gab. I feel like a god. I feel like an entertainer. So write when you damn well please."
Joe Queenan: "If you have read 6,000 books in your lifetime, or even 600, it's probably because at some level you find "reality" a bit of a disappointment. People in the 19th century fell in love with "Ivanhoe" and "The Count of Monte Cristo" because they loathed the age they were living through. Women in our own era read "Pride and Prejudice" and "Jane Eyre" and even "The Bridges of Madison County"—a dimwit, hayseed reworking of "Madame Bovary"—because they imagine how much happier they would be if their husbands did not spend quite so much time with their drunken, illiterate golf buddies down at Myrtle Beach. A blind bigamist nobleman with a ruined castle and an insane, incinerated first wife beats those losers any day of the week. Blind, two-timing noblemen never wear belted shorts."
LogicalDash: "Nobody of any age should have to fend off sexual partners. That such defense is assumed as a part of the cost of adult courtship is suggestive of some more fundamental problem than age difference and its effect on consensuality."
Keith Richards: "I had to invent the job, you know," he said, earlier. "There wasn't a sign in the shop window, saying, "Wanted: Keith Richards."
Caitlin Moran: "As I started to reassess my writing style, I thought about what I liked doing--what gave me satisfaction--and realized the primary one was just... pointing at things. Pointing out things I liked, and showing them to other people--like a mum shouting, "Look! Moo-cows!" as a train rushes past a farm. I liked pointing at things, and I liked being reasonable and polite about stuff. Or silly. Silly was very, very good. No one ever got hurt by silly.
Best of all was being pointedly silly about serious things: politics, repression, bigotry. Too many commentators are quick to accuse their enemies of being evil. It's far, far more effective to point out that they're acting like idiots, instead. I was up for idiot-revealing.
"I am just going to be polite and silly, and point at cool things," I decided. "When I started writing, I would have killed to have one thing to write about. Now, I have three. Politeness and silliness, and pointing. That's enough."
Carolyn Hax: "Unless 15 years’ worth of mail has misled me, no one has ever found love through complaining about the lack of it, and no lonely person has ever felt better for hearing, “You just haven’t found the right person yet.”
David Simon: "Change is a motherfucker when you run from it."
Joe Queenan: "People who read an enormous number of books are basically dissatisfied with the way things are going on this planet. And I think, in a way, people read for the same reason that kids play video games ... they like that world better. It works better, it's more exciting, and it usually has a more satisfactory ending."
Dan Savage: "There isn't someone for everyone. Some of us do wind up alone, and that just fucking sucks and sometimes that stings, and you don't know if you're one of those people who's going to wind up alone until you die alone....So you kind of have to live in hope and build a life for yourself that's rewarding and fun, has friends and pleasure in it, whether you're alone or not."
the painkiller: "I will not be tagged, pinned, circled, liked, tweeted, retweeted or numbered."
Steve Jobs: "Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Apple: "Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do."
Miss Manners: "Please do not -- repeat, not -- make a hostile approach to knitters. Have you not noticed that they are armed with long, pointy sticks?"
Stephen Tobolowsky: "And of course, nothing is what I figured on in my life. That seems to be a recurring theme."
James Bulls: "When you find yourself walking a true path, you will know it because you will want to walk it no matter the burning Sun, freezing sleet, torrential rain, and treacherous ground. The risks become no less and the journey as always exhausts you, but your desire to brave the challenges never diminishes."
Amy Argetsinger: "Twitter is a disease, plain and simple. It makes people insane. A decade from now I expect the CDC and FDA will be issuing warnings."
Cary Tennis: "You don't have to "move on" either. Not until you're ready. People say, Oh, you should be grateful. They say, Oh, it's time for you to move on. I'm like, What are you, a cop with a nightstick? I'll move on when I'm done playing the blues on my harmonica, thank you very much."
Mark Morford: "It is 2011 and here is what we know: Reality is fluid, fact is malleable, cause and effect completely uncertain. We know what we don't know, but we also know the opposite."
Charlie Jane Anders: "Just remember, if you flinch from your destiny, you'll never achieve your true greatness — you didn't choose to be chosen, but being chosen means you have to choose."
Roger Ebert: "To put it bluntly, I believe the world is patriarchal because men are bigger and stronger than women, and can beat them up."
Myca: "Jesus is not the reason for the season, and there's no way I need to act like he is. Christmas is a stolen tradition. There's no reason we can't steal it back."
Lady Gaga: "I hate the holidays! I'm alone and miserable, you fucking dumb bit of toy!"
Dianna Agron: "I am trying to live my life with a sharpie marker approach. You can’t erase the strokes you’ve made, but each step is much bolder and more deliberate."
John Mayer: "It occurred to me that since the invocation of Twitter, nobody who has participated in it has created any lasting art. And yes! Yours truly is included in that roundup as well. Let me make sure that statement is as absolute and irrevocable as possible by buzzing your tower one more time: no artwork created by someone with a healthy grasp of social media thus far has proven to be anything other than disposable."
Vanessa, Something Positive: "I like 'em crazy. You hear insane rants, I hear a reminder that the sex is interesting. Oooh! Hear that? Tonight's gonna tingle."
Anonymous: “Your problem is that you want to be an artist. What you need to be is an artisan.”
Sugar: "Ask better questions, sweet pea. The fuck is your life. Answer it."
Wide Lawns: "Often very odd things happen to me. Usually they are not my fault and mostly beyond my control."
Anonymous reporter: “When weird shit happens around here, weird shit really happens around here.”
Anne Johnson: "Today some stranger sent me an email that said, "You are a nut case." Well, I must admit this never would have occurred to me. Everyone else is a nut case. I'm the sane one. I think."
Carl Mayer: "Whenever I start to feel like my life isn’t where I want it to be, “Cops” is there to put everything into perspective. Yeah, I haven’t made all the right moves over the last 34 years, but I’m not hiding from the police under a kiddie pool, either."
John Scalzi: "In retrospect, it’s a little weird to think that my entire future was falling into place as I obliviously tucked into the El Presidente chimichanga platter, but of course, that’s life for you — the most important days of your existence don’t always announce themselves in obvious ways."
"We were shooting down by Wall Street—there’s an American Indian museum down there—and we told Sal to climb up on one of the statues and grab its nose. It’s completely 100 percent the most childlike, stupidest thing we could imagine him doing. He did it, and we got an angry response from the Department Of Homeland Security that basically said, “Hey man, do us a favor and don’t crawl on any statues in the future. We’re at heightened security. People watch your show, we don’t want them repeating what they see on the show. Please just stop.” That was it.
We’re law-abiding citizens, and we were happy to comply, but we got the idea to blow it up into something bigger with Sal. We started very subtly. We got Pete McPartland, Jr., who’s one of our producers, every once in awhile to be like “I can’t believe that Homeland Security is really taking this so seriously, like they won’t drop the case.” And then he wouldn’t say anything for three weeks."
"I had to be lied to by our entire extended staff and crew for all those months. It’s not often that you find out that 50 of the people you spend 60 hours a week with have been lying to your face for months. I know it’s for the good of the show, I know what we’re all trying to accomplish, I know this is all meant to be, but it doesn’t take away the human feeling that you’ve been completely thrown to the wolves. The people you trust have been so deceitful. When it was revealed to me, I had a pit in my stomach, and was secretly looking at everyone like, “You low-life son of a bitch.” I love you all and everything, but I secretly wish light harm on everybody."
And what did his friend think?
"I love Sal more than I can even say, but for some reason, that translates into loving seeing him confused and upset. Does that make sense?"
"Project Runway likes to present itself as a magical process for transforming unknowns into superstars. In fact, though, it’s something more interesting – a lens for seeing the broad range of options for working artists who aren’t nobodies but aren’t necessarily the most, most important somebodies either. Media representations tend to present the arts as an all-or-nothing proposition. Hollywood focuses on superstar successes – with biopics of James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Basquiat – or on people winning their international niche, a la the Pitch Perfect films.
Looking at Project Runway alums, on the other hand, offers a different perspective – a vision of the arts as day job. Project Runway isn’t the one, shining, ticket to becoming Alexander McQueen for the designers who appear on it. Instead, it’s a career strategy for working artists that can generate contacts, visibility and (if you’re very lucky) some investment capital.
That’s presumably the calculus for Dom Streater. Her business seems to be doing quite nicely, if the number of sold-out pieces is any indication, but she has obviously decided another infusion of publicity and/or cash wouldn’t hurt. Project Runway didn’t exactly make her the next great American fashion designer, and Project Runway All Stars probably won’t either. But she, and lots of other talented, creative folks who appear on the show, have managed to find a way to make their careers work, as Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn might say. The best thing about Project Runway isn’t its seasonal coronations. It’s the way it shows, despite itself, that the arts aren’t a competition, and that you don’t need to be a superstar to make a living doing what you love."
I normally wouldn't pay any attention to these people, but this is, uh, memorably weird.
"But six years after the reality show that launched their careers ended, and nine years after Heidi met Spencer, Speidi remains together.
The couple lives in self-imposed exile from Los Angeles. After MTV cancelled The Hills, they briefly moved to Costa Rica, where they had planned to purchase a house. When they arrived, they learned that real estate in South America can be just as expensive as it is in California. (Neither Spencer nor Heidi bothered to google prices before they boarded a plane.) For nearly six months, Heidi and Spencer say they lived in a Ritz Carlton in Costa Rica, ordering room service for themselves and their four dogs for every meal. By the end of their stay, they were broke.
"[The Hills getting cancelled] was our 9/11," Spencer says.
Today, Heidi and Spencer live rent-free in Spencer's dad's beachside vacation home near Santa Barbara. At their front gate, they've installed a laser security system typically reserved for museums, but Spencer admits they don't really need it. "Nobody wants to break into our home anymore," he says. "They google our new worth and see we are worth $10."
Then she spotted Spencer in a booth surrounded by Playboy playmates. She had never seen one man with so many models; Spencer's game impressed her. "I was like cartoon goo-goo eyes, heart falling out of my head," Heidi recalls. She decided to steal Spencer from the playmates' clutches. They may be cute, but they don't have my dance moves, Heidi remembers thinking.
"What you don't realize is that when you fake fight, you make people hate you. It's not fun."
"When I started realizing I'm on The Today Show, and I'm getting verbally accosted by the weatherman, with all due respect, I was like, Something is wrong here," Spencer says.
In the office, Spencer says, the doctor showed him how much the procedures typically cost. All the prices were crossed out on the sheet of paper. "Tax was $0," Spencer says. He started thinking about how this would help them on the show. "And at this point, we were all for plot, so "$300,000 free?" Season four ratings had dipped by 25 percent. In 2009, Jersey Shore premiered; when Snooki got punched, she instantly eclipsed Hills stars as America's favorite starlet. Spencer and Heidi knew they needed to step up their crazy, so they took the surgery deal.
He went out and started buying more crystals, hoping the decorative ornaments could restore their sanity. "I was hoping I could be a wizard at that point," Spencer says. "I was like 'Fuck it, I need magical powers to get out of this.'"
"You definitely were on a spiritual quest," Heidi agrees.
"Yeah, I was trying to find wizard powers!"
"Why were you trying to find wizard powers?" I ask.
"Because we needed magic," Spencer says.
"We were going down," Heidi adds.
"I needed, fucking, a spell to get us out of there. I needed some Harry Potter magic," Spencer says. "You could feel the energy, the hate. We needed to counteract this darkness."
After MTV cancelled The Hills, they scrapped Speidi's spin-off. Spencer and Heidi had saved none of their fortune. They had invested millions in Heidi's failed music career. They assumed they could live comfortably off paparazzi photos, but as social media exploded, the value of paparazzi photos declined. Why would US Weekly buy a paparazzi photo when they could use a celebrity's Instagram selfie for free?
Poverty forced them to accept what they had done. They pioneered the reality TV game without a road map. In the last four years, they've appeared on foreign reality shows and Marriage Boot Camp. For a few weeks a year, they play Speidi, but then they go home to their house, where they live alone and avoid the public. They spend most their time together, which they live stream on Snapchat, drinking, cuddling, and watching reality TV.
"The biggest misconception about us," Heidi says, "is that we wouldn't do it all over again."
"Of the three couples matched in season one, two of them—Doug Hehner and Jamie Otis and Jason Carrion and Cortney Hendrix—remain married. The show struck out badly in season two, so badly that none of three couples stayed together, and Jessica Castro wound up filing a restraining order against her TV husband, Ryan De Nino, after he allegedly made death threats against her. Had the seasons aired in the opposite order, the social experiment might have screeched to a halt. Still, a 33 percent success rate for an experiment in which complete strangers marry, then get acquainted with the added pressure of television cameras, isn’t shabby at all, and probably represents better odds than most people face on dating sites."
So during my post-Christmas Mythbusters marathon period of life, I watched Mission Impossible Mask, the episode in which Jamie and Adam get full on head masks made of themselves, trade wearing the masks, and then try to see if they can pass for each other. They could not so much without distance and silence:
"They directed six volunteers (who were fans of the show) to approach them, starting from 90 feet and ending at 5 feet, while using an unrelated task to mask the nature of the test. Three worked with "Jamie", three with "Adam", and all six quickly realized the deception as soon as the imposter spoke. Six more volunteers then took part in a test in which the disguised hosts did not speak; none of them suspected anything until they came face-to-face with the imposter.
Grant and Kari, both thoroughly familiar with Jamie's appearance and behavior, took part in a similar test, with subtle changes in "Jamie"'s wardrobe as distractions. Neither of them identified him as a fake until they were 5 feet away, though Kari expressed some doubt at 70 feet. Adam and Jamie classified the myth as plausible, depending on the circumstances under which the deception is carried out."
On a related note, I went over to a friend's house and she told me about Face Off, the Syfy makeup show version of Project Runway. In Covert Characters, the makeup artists were told to disguise a normal (model) person as a completely different person. Hooooooo boy, did that go badly. Only two were considered good enough to pass, and both of them just did their models as generic dudes, rather than trying to be super different. This turned out to be the best move, as the folks who tried to turn a white woman into an Asian man (with the worst facial hair ever), or a non-Indian woman into a woman who looked super damn sunburned, really didn't go well. There were four considered the worst, and most of them just had such bad fake skin, my god.
Moral of the story: trying to fake a person to pass as a real person is really, really damn hard. A lot of these looked like they were hitting the Uncanny Valley.
For the record: a friend of mine was on Judge Judy, and her case wasn't remotely so trashy (she got hit on her bike by a sleep-deprived driver). They supposedly sent her a check, but it took so long to show up that she'd literally moved away by the time they supposedly sent it. I don't think she ever physically got the money.
"If you're from Detroit, Houston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Gary, or Atlanta, I'm calling you no matter what the case is about. Why? Because that's where crazy lives.
I'm also going to call you if you're suing for pain and suffering, mental distress, mental agony, nightmares, and my favorite, loss of enjoyment of life. I also love it when Plaintiff wants to sue Defendant for being "triflin'." That's good stuff!"
Her job, Houston says, is to exploit stereotypes. She’s looking for black women suing each other over a hair weave. Booking a mother-daughter pornstar team was a triumph. Scorned women are great. Before the show, producers pump the litigants up like they are boxers in the ring, so they’ll be ready to say horrible stuff about each other.
This aspect of court TV—that when Judy Sheindlin and other judges order defendants to pay up, it’s the producers who actually pay—is an open secret.
“I have to ask them if they have teeth,” Houston has said. Most of the litigants, she explains, don’t have a full set of teeth, so the show buys them a pair for their appearance—or paints their teeth if they’re rotten and discolored from drug use.
Painting people’s teeth is part of a process that the producers refer to as putting people “through the carwash.” They take the litigants to the hairdresser, make sure they shower, give them fake teeth, and dress them in clothes that look nice but not too nice.
“If you saw what America actually looks like, you’d be horrified,” Houston says. “You wouldn’t turn on the TV.”
Oh, I got dirt on this: my friend's accident was witnessed by a homeless man, and they got him cleaned up but never put him on the show because of guess what--teeth. I guess they were too bad to fake.
Oh, and this is sad:
Eldar Shafir, a Princeton psychologist, has studied how poverty prevents people from solving puzzles similar to an IQ test. "Financial constraints capture a lot of your attention," he has said. "Then there's less bandwidth left to solve problems. Your cognitive ability starts to slow down, just like a computer."
"I created the Survivor class in 2011, at a time when I was feeling frustrated by the career I had chosen. As a junior professor at Northwestern University, I was having premonitions of being the 68-year-old professor who teaches the same syllabus on autopilot year after year. I was looking for a forum that would allow me to talk to other people who were really interested in reality TV, and that included other fans, players, and journalists.
That desire to reach out and connect was one of the first things that set in motion my time as a contestant on Survivor’s most recent season. It also led me to where I am now, working as a reality-TV consultant in Los Angeles, having conversations with people who make shows, and trying to get them to open up to new approaches.
When I started the casting process for Survivor, I was rebuffed at first when they said, "You're too nice. You're too polite." On social media, I'm much more aggressively narcissistic, egocentric, and kind of hyperconfident-arrogant. I've always regarded it as a character that I've played. Not to say that it's not a part of me, but it's a side of me. This was the character they wanted to see. It became very easy for me to draw on a side of my personality that I had formally only expressed through typing on a Twitter screen, to amplify those characteristics even more to create this caricature of myself. This is not a dishonest portrayal — it's just taking elements of my personality that I would normally only allow to come out through snark on Twitter. It felt like taking the governor off aspects of my personality that I spend a lot time trying to keep under wraps or eliminate outright in the interest of being a better friend, a better co-worker, a better partner.
Even though some of the people around me came away from it with a smaller view of me, I left it with a better sense of self. It gave me a place to express a side of my personality that society doesn’t allow us to express. The key is making sure that you only indulge these parts of yourself inside the confines of the game. Play Survivor on the island, not in your everyday life."