Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This and That



Bloggers are their own editors, and that is a sad thing. Because if I had an editor, I'm sure that s/he would find all my misspellings and grammar errors. I often find them the day after I post, and I cringe. And a good editor would never let me get away with a headline like This and That, which is a journalistic cliche that probably went out of style with The Reader's Digest and Ladies Home Jounal. I wish Amanda Lorber were my editor.

Who is Amanda Lorber? Well, just when I thought there was nothing good on TV this spring, I had a verymarkmccormick synchronistic experience: I read about The Paper in the New York Times one day and the very next day on JetBlue, coming back from my friend Tim and Lee's place in the Hamptons for Memorial Day, I caught an MTV marathon of the series, and I have just three words: dee-lish-ous. Oh, and as an aside: I encourage everyone to cut up their United Airlines frequent flyer cards and switch to JetBlue. Costs a little more, but with extra leg room, planes that leave on time, overhead bins big enough for a hat box, 36 stations of mind-numbing television in every leather seat, and all the Lorna Doons you can eat, worth every penny.

The Paper is about a high school newspaper in Florida and its imperious, precocious "love to hate" Editor-in-Chief Amanda Lorber. Actually, though she makes some serious mis-steps in the episodes I saw (she should have joined the team on the ropes course instead of finishing her NYU application), she is a mature manager. She dresses down her managing editor for contradicting her in a meeting, and it was a fine example of one minute management: "look, you made me look bad in front of the editorial team, it was inappropriate, and I'd prefer it if you didn't do it again, and if that ruins our friendship, fine."

It took me back to my days as editor in chief of my high school yearbook, The Pocatellian. In those days we didn't have computers; we pasted things up on graph paper and typed out our copy, put it all in a big envelope and waited three months. The newspaper was mimeographed, I think. Now they've all got Macs, of course. It's a tense moment as all 34 pages are "PDF'd" then burned to a disc. I suppose they take the disc to Kinkos and wake up the next morning to boxes and boxes of four color glory: instant gratification for the particular brand of ego-inflated intellectuals-in-training that comprise high school newspaper staffs (and adult bloggers for that matter).

This seems like a rich high school. It's clean, and the boys are metrosexual, bonding and gossiping over expensive haircuts at the spa. There's a delicious bit of hero worship as the paper runs a feature story on some kid named Jan (something like that--someone please correct me), who can apparently do everything: he is a track star, cello player and has perfect SAT scores. He's like a high school celebrity. But some of the alpha males on the newspaper staff get fed up with the girls' idolatry (and their own ambiguous stirrings no doubt) and challenge him to three duals: Rubic's cube, basketball, and a foot-race. I can't tell you the results!

The teacher /advisor is a gem, though; she will remind you of your favorite teacher from high school. The one you could find at her desk at 4 p.m., ready to answer any question you might have had about "a friend" who thinks he or she might be (fill in the blank): gay, pregnant, an atheist, addicted to marijuana, or have an STD.

The last line of the New York Times review describes the lesson that teens (of all ages) might learn from The Paper: "A whole lot of working life involves talking about work, and the hard-driving loudmouth usually wins"

If you're already a fan of The Paper, and have lots of time on your hands, here's a sweet little interview of Amanda Lorber by a fan:



In finding this, I realized that most of the episodes of The Paper are on YouTube. I'm very late to this craze. Gotta catch up. . .

On a totally unrelated topic--or related by the thinnest thread, TV--can we just pause for a moment and collectively reflect on the American Idol season that just passed? Did it not deliver? I think it did. So many of us (and by us I mean me and my loyal group of friends who gathered on Tuesdays for this frothiest of guilty pleasures) were saying that this season did not have the emotional impact of others, or that the franchise had lost its appeal somehow as its warts started showing (what? you mean the judges watch dress rehearsal and even practice their critiques? ohmygawd!), but that the talent at least this year was good, especially the boys, but soul-less somehow. We fretted about the tyranny of David Archuleta's stage dad, and we fell over ourselves laughing as Paula delivered yet another incoherent, slurring, syntax-mangling critique. (Yet she really nailed it when she said she wanted to hang Archuleta from her rear-view mirror--he was just so cute and talented.) We fell in and out of love with Jason as he slipped into a pot-induced stupor of forgetfulness and apathy. We were embarrassed for Amanda as she suffered through yet another Up With People medley choreographed, somehow, it seemed, by the very same person who must have been gainfully employed in the seventies working for The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and the Donny and Marie Show. We speculated on David Cook's hairline and Ryan's sexuality. We pined nostalgically for our first albums, or the only albums we liked AND our parents liked as Brooke sang another Carole King, another Carly Simon.

In the end, what pushed David Cook over the top? Was it the cougars?

Whatever. It was a good season. And you can make fun of it all you want, but the New Yorker music critic (does anyone know if Sasha is a boy or a girl) finds some merit.

If you're wondering, for my money there is only one Idol and that's Fantasia:

1 comment:

Jeff said...

Recently, as I was traveling back from my friends Bert and Myrtle's trailer in the Ozarks on the Greyhound, I....