I was so pleased to see my article in Time Out New York, not just because I love to see my own name in print (which I do), but because I think the illustrations are awesome. The article is about "letterboxing," a secretive hobby that few people know about.Map #011 Letterboxing"One Upper East Sider who goes by the trail name SnapZ says, 'I had a box hidden in a hollow log in Riverside Park. One day, I found a flashlight and scissors there. Drug dealer? Homeless person? I never found out.'"
May means the start of the summer season--and that means big summer movies. Hence, one of my favorite assignments of the year:Summer Film PreviewA round-up of the must-see films of the summer: "Apparently, even after you find the Holy Grail, there’s still more whip-cracking adventuring to do. An older, crankier Indy takes young Mutt Williams (Transformers’ Shia LeBeouf) along for the ride this time."Also in this issue:Our Parents' DivorcesA lifestyle piece about what happens to people after their parents get divorced: "'When their parents divorce, many children go through an emotional roller coaster,' says Peter Salem, executive director of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. 'There is a fundamental change in the child’s world. There could be a change of residence, or the family income isn’t what it once was because it has to support two homes. The bedrock of their lives—the family unit—is being dismantled. The question turns into whether or not there will be emotional damage to the children and, if so, what the extent of it will be.'”From CNN to ASUA follow-up article with CNN's Aaron Brown: "In June 2005, we profiled Aaron Brown, then an anchor for CNN’s NewsNight and <st1:city st="on"><st1:place st="on">Scarsdale</st1:place></st1:city> resident. Today, almost all of what we wrote has changed. He’s no longer with the cable net, having been replaced after four years by a certain silver-haired anchor whose name rhymes with Schmanderson Schmooper." (It's the sixth item down.)UPDATE: This article was picked up for an item in Page Six. Read it here.Ask the ExpertA tiny item about generic vs. name-brand pills: "According to the FDA, a store-brand or generic drug must be the same as the original in terms of dosage, strength, performance, use, quality, and safety. However, the look of the brand-name drug is trademarked, so the store-brand version uses the inactive ingredients to change the size, shape, color, or taste, and those ingredients may give you a different reaction." (It's the fourth item down.)Culture, Etc.Joan Osborne, Jacques Goudstikker, art galas, and more.
The redesign of our magazine went live in April, and it couldn't look better. I placed these articles in the fresh-looking issue:Oh What a Web We Need
A short list of our staff's we'd-die-without websites: "Who says that traditional media is afraid of the Web? Here at the magazine, we couldn’t live without the Internet (for work—honest)." (It's the fifth item down.)Culture, Etc.
The B-52s, Ira Glass, Josh Ritter, and more.In addition to writing the articles above, I assigned these meaty pieces:X Saves Westchester
Our Subprime Crisis
Culture Shock...And one last item of business:Aqua Teen Hunger Force Vol. 5In the midst of preparing the April issue, one PopMatters review wormed its way onto the site, too: "If you’ve watched Aqua Teen Hunger Force or the show’s first feature film, Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters, you know that everything about the show defies logic. Especially the film which, for a full-length film based on an 11-minute, late-night cartoon about talking food, managed to be released in 877 theaters its opening weekend. And that’s after a viral marketing campaign for the movie caused Boston officials to call the bomb squad."Much more in May!
The powers that be have decided to expand the reach of Poptional Reading, my weekly pop-culture blog. Now, in addition to Westchester Magazine, a modified version of each post will appear on the websites for these regional mags:Hudson Valley MagazineMain Line TodayDelaware TodayI love the graphic the drummed up for me at Hudson Valley Magazine, so I've included it here. Today, I'm one very lucky blogger.
Two of my PopMatters reviews went up on the same day. I love it when that happens.quarterlifeNote: the lack of a capital "q" is the show's stupid stylistic decision, not mine. My review isn't much nicer: "This is the not-quite-true story of six friends picked to live in a house and have their lives taped, as one pensive video-blogger finds out what happens when people stop being polite and start being 'real'...A show where friends sleep around on each other, only to have truths revealed about their lives through a blog? It’s basically Gossip Girl, only without the awareness that it’s a total fantasy."Right at Your DoorThe movie was mixed, but it did make me jump up and buy a disaster-preparedness kit online: "Gorak manages to wring the maximum amount of fright out of this situation not by how large the disaster looms, but how small he makes it."Also, PopMatters has now done this neat thing where you can search reviews by author, so you can see everything else I've written for them, too.
Yes, suburbia still exists after dark.Night Owls: The BartenderA profile of people who work after dark: "At night, you can find bartender Tiffany Grimes under the flat-screen TVs and exotic animal heads at Hartsdale’s Mighty Joe Young’s, mixing up for thirsty patrons its signature 'Kenya, Willya, Wontcha?' But, as with other skilled bartenders, you can also picture her as Lucy from Peanuts, standing beneath a homemade cardboard sign that says 'The Doctor Is In.'" (It's the fifth item down.)
Arts & EntertainmentA zombie Girl with a Pearl Earring and lots more.Okay, so this issue is a little light on bylines for me, but a lot of pieces I assigned to freelancers are in this one, including:The Thrill of the HuntIs There a Critic in the House?Evening Alternatives (halfway down)From Cooper to Condo (second-to-last item)
Great Places, New FacesA round-up of new players in the local culture scene, including local maestro Itzhak Perlman. (It's the ninth item.)
Arts & Entertainment Flamenco dancing, Eaglefest, and more.
Today PopMatters released its ranking of the 30 best television shows of 2007. Unlike the film list—where I learned that my favorite films of the year just squeaked onto the list at spots 29 and 21—my TV write-up rose to the No. 1 spot! I'm glad I'm not the only one in love with Pushing Daisies.High Redefinition: The 30 Best TV Shows of 2007"Never before has a show so consumed with death been so darn perky."It's also time for some mid-season debuts, and with the writers' strike on, it's a weak field. I scraped one review out of the bottom of the barrel.The Celebrity Apprentice"Both teams act like they’re extremely serious, and all pay due deference to Mr. Trump. This even if some of these celebrities are bigger brands than The Donald, at least among some viewers. (In my college dorm, I saw lots of copies of 1974’s Kiss, fewer of 1988’s The Art of the Deal.)"
One of the best things about being an entertainment writer is getting to influence the rankings in collaborative year-end lists. (I don't think The Host would've made it on the list below if it weren't for me.) PopMatters just published its ranking of the 30 best films of 2007, and I got to weigh in on a few of them.A Gallery of Good Works: The Best Films of 2007I contributed three blurbs to the countdown:No. 29 (save the best for second-to-last), for The Host: "Most foreign monster movies come with at least some degree of kitsch built in, and with that comes a distance that keeps audiences from ever being fully involved in the story. With The Host, South Korean director Joon-ho Bong annihilates that boundary."No. 21, for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford: "Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck both give quiet, obsessive, breathtaking performances: Pitt as the charismatic-but-paranoid celebrity outlaw, and Affleck as his profound wannabe."No. 3, for Ratatouille: "That one scene is enough to remind you that, for all of their snazzy rat’s-eye-view tracking shots, artistic renderings that make Paris look like the confection it is, and lovable characters with populist-not-preachy messages—none of which is a small feat to pull off—the true magic of Pixar is the ability to instantaneously leave all that behind for one moment so emotionally involving it can stop your heart for a second."Coming Soon: PopMatters' list of the best TV of 2007!
The Cleaner of Seville
A short, front-of-book article about the man who cleans all of the costumes for the Metropolitan Opera: "The show must go on—and go on without sweaty, makeup-stained costumes—and someone’s got to take those gowns to the cleaners."Arts & EntertainmentJoyce Carol Oates, a new children's play, and, my favorite, an item about Styx.Look for more in February!