Nora Ephron: "Never turn down a front-row seat for human folly."
Lord Vetinari, Unseen Academicals: "One day I was a young boy... when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. Even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued... As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and the pink roes spilled out much to the delight of the baby otters. Mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that is when I first learned about evil. It is built into the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior."
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?”
J.C. Hutchins: "I was Wanky McWankerton, in love with words I’d yet to write. I did this for nearly two years. If every sperm is sacred, God wasn’t irate with me — he was effing thermonuclear."
Beth Sekishiro: "You don't need to be conventional to love people. Maybe you've got to give up your whole life - but that's just when you'll find it."
Cormac McCarthy: "Creative work is often driven by pain. It may be that if you don't have something in the back of your head driving you nuts, you may not do anything. It's not a good arrangement. If I were God, I wouldn't have done it that way."
"I stepped off this sidewalk in Bangladesh and the whole thing collapsed. I fell through the sidewalk and into this big monsoon gutter. Three-quarters of my calf was in this human filth that was raw and disgusting. I wound up landing with my left leg underneath me. I got out and they show this guy pouring water on my legs because it’s literally human shit. There’s a part in the cab where I’m rubbing hand sanitizer on my leg because this stuff got into my shoe, and it was soaking wet. I couldn’t get my clothes off. I went on a game show, but I didn’t go there to die.
So I got questioned a little bit about that and they were saying, “Are you sure you’re not overdoing it?” Amy and Daniel were on my season, and Amy was the double-amputee snowboarder, and I thought, “There’s a person out here with no legs, no kidney, and no spleen because of bacteria, so I don’t think I’m overdoing it.” Things happen when you expose yourself in these crazy places around the world, so I was really nervous about that.
"In the first episode of Best Funeral Ever, a casket is sent down a bowling alley rolling a bowling ball in front of it. The casket is on a kind of gurney, and as the family members push the casket down the alley with enthusiasm, the bowling ball rolls into the 10 pins, which have been painted to spell out “RIP JUDY.” The family earnestly tells the camera crew that Judy was an avid bowler, and the alley was where she was happiest. It only seemed fitting to say goodbye to her at the place she loved."
"Well I just wanted to do something kind of crazy since I've been a
licensed builder and I've been building homes for eighteen years. I
really enjoy craftsmanship and carpentry work and I know that the Amish
pride themselves on that. So I kind of wanted to go out there and intern
with them. It just started off as a joke but then we sent one the
network guys out there to talk to the bishop to see if it was OK. We
weren't even sure if it was going to happen. After it was cleared with
the bishop, the neighbors, and a whole gang of people, they accepted me
and I actually went in with a true Amish family. We just wanted to
assure them that we wanted to showcase what they love, their lifestyle,
their heritage, and learn why they've held on to it this long. We wanted
to find out why they don't have electricity, cell phones, TV's, and all
of the luxuries. I found out all of that and you'll see it on the show.
My other show "The Vanilla Ice Project" is all of the latest and
greatest in technology and this one meets the old world with the Amish,
so it was a great thing. They're very sweet people and we had a great
time. It was a gift to be approved and I think everyone is going to
enjoy the adventure that I went on!"
But as I read farther down, I started thinking things like, "sooooooooooooo predictable...." Especially when you read things like this:
"Again and again, though,
producers and casting agents come up against the problem of the too
perfect. “I just did an interview an hour ago,” Rosen says. “He was a
sound-bite machine. Media-trained, clearly. He knew what I wanted, did
three takes on each question, got better and better. He was aiming to
please. He was great. So the question is: Is that going to come across
as a cheesy car salesman or a big personality that’s going to carry the
show? And I don’t know.”
“Maybe we need to get over the idea that we’re discovering
innocents,” suggests David Showalter, the University of Chicago student
who put on the Jersey Shore conference, “and rather use the fact
that all these people know how they are expected to behave to break the
tropes.” Bill Robinson, whose production company Shady Media recently
sold a pilot to Bravo called Shades of New York, about gay
hip-hoppers, agrees that a savvy reality actor, with a third eye, can be
a blessing. “We had a full-on good old-fashioned dinner at a restaurant
in the East Village, in a private room. The place is packed, and one of
the cast members was smart, ’cause he’d been on a reality show before,
so he knew what we needed, he stirred it up, caused a fight, provoked
everybody. They’re punching each other, threatening each other, throwing
things. I was like, ‘Cut, cut, cut, we can’t trash the restaurant.’ But
in the cutting room, I was like, ‘Thank God.’ He knew.”
Farther down, I do have to point out that the funeral sounded...pretty awesome, actually.
"At Shain’s funeral, which the producers paid for, the mourners wore
camouflage, as Shain had liked to do, and Gandee Candy T-shirts. Later,
at the cemetery, after Loretta and Shain’s father Dale had gone back
down the hill, and it was time to cover the casket with dirt, Shain’s
guy friends poured his favorite beer into the hole and tossed in a can
of his favorite tobacco, too. Then Ashley, whose running joke with Shain
was that whenever she entered the room, he’d say, “Show me your tits,”
said, “I wish I could flash him just one more time.” She and the other
girls conferred, and after getting Joey’s endorsement, they all took off
their bras and threw them into the hole, along with camo bracelets that
had been made for the funeral. Joey got his car, and they wrote
Shainisms like “I imagine” in its dirt with their fingers. Then they all
went mudding—Cara and Ashley mud wrestled—and afterward to a bar where,
Cara says, they “raised hell all night long.”
"What the host didn't know is that K.T. was actually 31-year-old Ken Tarr,
a budding mastermind of the reality TV hoax. Over the past five months,
working out of his modest Los Angeles apartment, Tarr had talked his
way onto eight different shows taped in five different cities — each
time cloaked in a different persona. He'd become a dissonant saboteur in
the machinery of sleaze that sprawls across our televisions.
For Judge Joe Brown, he pretended to be a drunk gypsy clown who trashed a bathroom at a kid's birthday party. On The Trisha Goddard Show, he played Eddie the Trucker, a discount lothario who ran up $70,000 in debts by bedding hookers and playing the lottery. For Unfaithful, a show produced by Oprah Winfrey's OWN, he was an international security expert who was cheating on his girlfriend — who was also cheating on him. And on The Sit-Down, a show in which ex-mafioso Michael Franzese mediates disputes over dinner, he played a mope whose best friend had seduced his girlfriend and crashed his car.
"Despite a lot of posturing about "empowerment" and "girl power," most
of the women in the show can't seem to dig their bedazzled shovels fast
enough to bury feminist progress. When watching the shows, I'm reminded
of Susan Faludi's 1991 National Book Award-winning book, Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women,
in which she makes a compelling case that whenever an oppressed group
makes social progress, there is a backlash against them that tries to
re-establish the old status quo. The Real Housewives embodies that notion, with most of the women seeming like better-dressed versions of '50s housewives.
Yes, I went there. But before I start getting my own reader backlash,
let me remind you that the word "feminism" means, according to Webster,
"the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the
sexes." I'm sure every one of the housewives would loudly support the
equality of the sexes. In theory. However, in practice they are
seriously undermining it. That's what makes these shows so reflective of
the national psyche: we often do the opposite of what we claim we
believe in, not out of malice, but out of lack of insight."
"I bring up comedies because what's so interesting to me about the
success of "Duck Dynasty" is how unapologetic it is about being a sitcom
that just happens to feature a real family whose members play
That most reality shows are scripted on some level is not a state secret. In a New York Times feature on the show
back in the fall, the Robertsons used the phrase "guided reality" to
describe how things work: the producers suggest an idea for a scene, or
an episode, and then the family members act it out using their own
words, relating to each other the way they usually do. Take away the
fact that the Robertsons aren't trained comedians and you have a
creative structure (though not a level of comedic brilliance) not that
far removed from something like "Curb Your Enthusiasm," where Larry
David comes up with the story and then invites his actors to improvise
Take a recent episode, "Si-Amese Twins," in which Willie brings a
human resources consultant in for a seminar on healthy workplace
interactions. The guys immediately start doing everything she's
lecturing against, and Si decides to have some fun with a pair of
handcuffs he recently found:
Wacky hijinks ensue, as Si and Willie are cuffed together for the rest
of the episode, forced to figure out how to drive, go to the bathroom
and otherwise go about their day like that. I can imagine many sitcoms —
particularly the rural ones that were so popular in the '60s ("Green
Acres," "The Beverly Hillbillies," "The Andy Griffith Show") — doing
this exact episode, with many of the same punchlines, even.
Which leads to me to the thing I wonder about "Duck Dynasty," and about
some of the other more popular docu-shows on cable: would this show be
as popular if it were presented as an overtly scripted version of
If, say, TBS had debuted "Duck Dynasty," pretending that the Robertsons
were actually an improv comedy troupe from Louisiana, and given us this
exact show with these situations, this dialogue, etc., would an
audience go for it, or would they dismiss it as cartoonish yokel humor?
Now what if you removed it a step further, and perhaps still had the
Robertsons playing themselves, but on a stage in front of a live studio
audience in the multi-cam tradition? Or if you had actors saying and
doing the exact same things the Robertsons did?"