Archive for February, 2013

NPR Loves Depeche Mode Too

Posted on February 28th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

It premiered this stripped-down version of the new Depeche Mode single, “Heaven.”

Quite nice.

This’ll Get You Choked Up

Posted on February 27th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Very moving.

Quote of the Day

Posted on February 27th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“I did a hell of a job in Boston.”

fired Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, who…didn’t.

Does She “Lean-In”?

Posted on February 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Marissa Mayer ends Yahoo’s work-from-home policy, a particular boon to parents…even as she builds a nursery next to her office. Ouch.

This phenomenon of the elitist working mother is getting interesting. Sure, it’s easier to balance work and parenting…when you can build a nursery right next door to your office. (And you know there’s a full-time nanny or two.)

It’s also fascinating to me how many of the Silicon Valley tech firms listed in this Kara Swisher article allow employees to work from home or some form of flex-time. The East Coast is way behind….

I Saw a Boob

Posted on February 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

I watched some of the Oscars—started late and just couldn’t make it past midnight—and am fascinated by the reaction to Seth McFarlane’s bizarre song-and-dance number, “We Saw Your Boobs,” which was essentially an iteration of actresses who’ve taken their tops off in films.

Over at the New Yorker, and about a million other places, women were outraged.

The women were not showing their bodies to amuse Seth MacFarlane but, rather, to do their job. Or did they just think they were doing serious work? You girls think you’re making art, the Academy, through MacFarlane, seemed to say, but all we—and the “we” was resolutely male—really see is that we got you to undress. The joke’s on you. At a moment when Sheryl Sandberg, the Facebook chief operating officer, talks about how women have to “lean in” in the workplace, Seth MacFarlane pops up from behind to say, “So we can see your boobs.

In a classic Mars-Venus dichotomy, the dudes over at Deadspin weren’t so hot and bothered.

I laughed at the “We Saw Your Boobs” song, though your mileage will vary. It deflated the night’s most high-minded pretensions and reminded us in a giddy, old-show-biz way that movies are still, at bottom, about stroking the lower impulses of the audience. This is tacky and so is Hollywood, MacFarlane seemed to be saying. Don’t forget it.

By and large I’m with the women on this one. The argument that the purpose of the skit was to deflate “high-minded pretensions” seems overly generous; after all, this is the broadcast that had Rob Lowe dancing with Snow White. It’s not all that high-minded.

It felt more to me that McFarlane was trying to have it both ways: to be shocking and “edgy,” all the while injecting an element of self-awareness and distance (the whole Captain Kirk thing) that absolved him of taking responsibility for tasteless material whose primary purpose is mere shock value. (Kind of like Quentin Tarantino’s use of the n-word, although that is a topic for another day.)

And, yeah, if I were a woman, I’d be pretty irritated that McFarlane was so puerile about women’s work.

Perhaps the gravest crime here is that the bit just wasn’t funny; it wasn’t really obvious what it was supposed to be lampooning—other than, perhaps, women in film—and so the skit came across as stupid and pointless.

(Okay, the part where he listed how many movies Kate Winslet has taken off her top in was kinda funny. But that was about it.)

Just as the Onion tweet in which a nine-year-old actress was called a “cunt” wasn’t funny. The only time that word is funny is when it’s used in British gangster movies.

There was a high-low element to the show that represented something true about the movie business—it’s art, but it’s popcorn too—perhaps manifested best in Jennifer Lawrence’s pratfall. She’s all decked out, but she’s human too, right?

Still, that’s hardly a new idea, and one that should best emerge organically from the show, particularly in the acceptance speeches. No need to be a jerk to make that point. But if you do it…own it.

Sheryl Sandberg, Feminist Icon

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 in Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

The TImes has a fascinating piece about Sheryl Sandberg’s new book—brace yourself for a publicity onslaught—and Sandberg’s attempt to start a national women’s movement, based on collective consciousness-raising, that Sandberg is calling “Lean-In.”

When her book is published on March 11, accompanied by a carefully orchestrated media campaign, she hopes to create her own version of the consciousness-raising groups of yore: “Lean In Circles,” as she calls them, in which women can share experiences and follow a Sandberg-crafted curriculum for career success. (First assignment: a video on how to command more authority at work by changing how they speak and even sit.)

But as the Times points out, Sandberg has some potential drawbacks as a feminist icon, in that she’s really never known hardship and she’s incredibly privileged and absurdly rich. She’s become a paper billionaire by working at jobs that, difficult though they may be, don’t require her to work longer hours than millions of American women who get paid minimum wage for their efforts and don’t have a 9, 000-square-foot house.

But Sandberg does not lack for confidence:

“I always thought I would run a social movement,” Ms. Sandberg, 43, said in an interview for “Makers,” a new documentary on feminist history.

All this sets off alarm bells to me. It is hard to imagine “a leader of a social movement,” whether male or female, whose life story has absolutely no relevance to the people he or she is supposed to be leading. Sandberg is surely enormously talented and ambitious—I’m told by someone who used to work closely with her that she was thinking about running for governor of California, but has decided to go straight for the presidency—and I wouldn’t underestimate her. But what gives her such confidence that she knows what is best for women? If it’s not based in empathy and shared struggle, isn’t it just…arrogance?

But advisors and colleagues say Sandberg has no such qualms.

“She is using all of her social capital on this,” said Rachel Sklar, founder of a networking list for women in technology, who is on the Lean In launch committee.

(Blogger: There is something so deeply appalling about this sentence—as if using “all your social capital” really indicates anything meaningful.)

Asked how Ms. Sandberg would balance her demanding job with the creation of a new movement, a member of the team offered a tentative answer: she plans to use her vacation days.

Sandberg has convinced a number of major corporations to sign on to the Lean In manifesto, which is weird, and convinced Jill Abramson, the editor of the New York Times, to write an essay in support of Lean In, which in my old school way of thinking is unprofessional of Abramson.

So all this will get some attention. Maybe some good will come out of the ensuing debate. Or maybe Sandberg will just succeed in convincing people to sign on to her agenda, which is, ultimately, the accumulation of her own power and wealth.

Friday Morning Zen

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »



Pardon My Absence

Posted on February 20th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I’m in Napa at the Meadowood Wine Writers Symposium, a terrific annual conference at which I’m supposed to talk about wine and magazines but really I mostly just listen to people who know much more about that subject than I do…

But I’ll be blogging as much as I’m able….

Quotes of the Day

Posted on February 15th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“I am the bullet in the chamber.”

—The text of a Nike ad featuring murderous South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius. The ad has now been pulled.

“Had a 96% headshot over 300m from 50 shots! Bam!”

—A November 2011 tweet by Oscar Pistorious.

Quote of the Day

Posted on February 14th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

“She’s my road dog. She’s my homey, my best friend.”

Beyonce, talking about her one-year-old daughter, Blue Ivy. (Thanks, USAToday.)