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."
Tart and Soul: "Indeed, love comes whether we have braced ourselves for it or not. But commitment offers a choice, tapping us on the shoulder to say, “sorry to bother you. Is this a good time?”
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."
"The women of I Wanna Marry “Harry” are not just posited as gold-diggers out to score a fairy-tale prince, but also women naive enough to believe that one of the most famous, rich, and glamorous royals alive would choose a life partner through the same process with which Flavor Flav and Bret Michaels choose which groupies to swap STDs with."
"Within the world of dating reality competitions, the insult most bandied about is that some sinister schemer is doing the show for the “wrong reasons”—that they’re there to make money, get famous, and embrace surreal experiences rather than find true love. To me, going on a show to make money, build your brand, and have crazy adventures is exactly the right reason to do reality television. You’re a lot more likely to experience those things from doing a show like The Bachelor or Joe Millionaire than you are to find true, lasting love."
Lois McMaster Bujold: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen Reviewed February 8. (****)
Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello Reviewed February 15. (***)
Marie Brennan: A Natural History of Dragons: A Memoir By Lady Trent Reviewed February 12. (****)
Meljean Brook: Riveted Reviewed February 11. (****)
Steven Brust: Sethra Lavode Reviewed February 10. (****)
Steven Brust: The Lord of Castle Black Reviewed February 9. (****)
Steven Brust: The Paths of the Dead Reviewed February 8. (***)
Augusten Burroughs: This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike. Reviewed January 27. (*****)
Gabrielle Oettingen: Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside The New Science of Motivation Reviewed January 26. (****)
Seanan McGuire: Indexing: Reflections: all chapter reviews Reviewed January 14. (****)
Michael Signer: Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father Reviewed January 26. (***)
Seanan McGuire: Indexing: Reflections: Episode 24: Never After Reviewed January 12. (****)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.6 Reviewed January 21. (****)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.5 Reviewed January 20. (***)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.4 Reviewed January 19. (**)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.3 Reviewed January 18. (***)
Wildbow: Worm: Gestation 1.2 Reviewed January 15. (***)
David McCullough: John Adams Reviewed January 14. (****)
Elle Kennedy: The Deal Reviewed January 13. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Escape In You Reviewed January 12. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Relent (Ransom Series Book 4) Reviewed January 11. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Redeem (Ransom Series Book 3) Reviewed January 8. (****)
Rachel Schurig: Release (Ransom Series Book 2) Reviewed January 7. (****)