Conde Nast Publications is suing the British protectorate of Turks and Caicos and its tourist board for failing to pay over $1 million for advertising appearing in 2007 and 2008 issues of W magazine, Vanity Fair, Elegant Bride, and the 2007 Fashion Rocks supplement. (WWD is also owned by Conde Nast.)
The affirmation that I was addicted to Twitter came on a cold Friday afternoon. My husband and I both work from home on Fridays and typically we say few words to each other as I type away writing my columns, and he types away writing code for his latest IT project.
But on this particular day, our thoughts turned to love, or should I say lust.
I don't want to give anyone the wrong impression. We've been married for more than 10 years, and most intimate encounters happen the traditional way, at night when the kids are fast asleep. Sometimes, however, the fog of age and familiarity fall away and you see each other as you did during those first months after you met, when there were few cares and lust obsessed your every waking moment.
"S-E-X." That was the instant message from my husband, who sits two feet from me, that sent us both scrambling for the bedroom, pulling off our clothing and jumping into each other's arms.
We lay back with broad smiles on our faces afterwards, and the aching feeling that we'd have to leave our warm bed and head back to the real world. The sun shined harshly through our windows like an angry supervisor telling us to get back to our cold computer assembly line.
Surely John Donne would have tweeted this tryst if he were alive.
Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
(This particular stanza from Donne's poem, "The Sun Rising," is less than 140 characters.)
I sidled up to my husband, who was picking our crumpled clothing off the floor, and said: "I have a question for you. Would you mind if I tweeted our afternoon encounter?"
I should have known better than to ask this question. For months he's been complaining about my obsession with Twitter, that I was on it too often, that I talked about it too much, that it was silly and needed to be eradicated from my already busy schedule. "Are you tweeting?" he'd often ask when he was waiting for me to get to the dinner table or join him for a morning walk.
I often find myself defending Twitter. And lately, it's gotten easier to defend, having gotten some props for being more than just another social networking site.
Alas, there's been so much hype about how Twitter's reach is now shaping world events, that what's gotten lost in the shuffle is its impact on our regular, mundane lives.
It's not tweets about protests in the streets of Tehran, but ones about bowel movements, recipes for the perfect Greek salad, and unabashed self-promotion that have rocketed Twitter into the stratosphere. Almost everyone on Twitter is trying to promote themselves whether they admit it or not, and the more followers you have the cooler you are, and the greater impact your tweets will have. I'm known as CareerDiva and I have over 3,400 followers.
Tweeting about my career blog and my MSNBC.com column have been at the top of my Twitter to do list because it's a great way to drive more traffic. I can also share the workplace issues that are near and dear to my heart, or just bitch about any type of news from around the globe.
I also write all my tweets in verse, and dubbed myself the Calvin Trillin of Twitter. People have asked me why I always rhyme. I guess I like the challenge of coming up with something witty that also rhymes, whether it's about hostessing or joblessness.
just tell me if you're going to show up for my gig/i know RSVPs are passé but without them i'll be short of the fatted pig
news of 2.6 million jobs lost in 2008 is making me blue, the highest number of jobs lost in a year since WWII.
Lately, I find myself inadvertently sharing more. It was almost like a cathartic cyber pen that emerged as I began tweeting about my marriage, my children and my own mortality.
looking thru our wedding album and see three guests now dead and gone/just part of the growing old con?
ex-boyfriend wants to friend me on facebook/my hubby's ok with this/should i regard this as a diss?
"All About Eve" wasn't making my hubby happy and, while he never tried to really derail my Twitter obsession, he made it clear many a times that he thought Twitter was twisted, and that I was getting more and more tangled.
And now I dared ask him if I could share our most intimate moment with twitterheads around the globe. "No," he said with a bit of shocked disgust in his voice.
"No?" I asked meekly. "No," he responded quietly.
We both knew the discussion was over, and we headed back to our desks. I sat there like an alcoholic who was just told she drinks too much; ready to reach for another drink as I called up Twitter.
Of course I wouldn't tweet about our brief, beautiful moments together, but it took me a while before I could grasp how my request pointed to something I would have to someday face -- I was bordering on being a Twitter-a-holic.
"So what if I was?" was my first thought. It doesn't hurt anyone, doesn't cause wars, doesn't destroy love.
I love many things, as my Twitter friends know all to well.
nothing better than rummaging thru a bag of pistachios and finding one that's shell-less/i'm a salt-a-holic, i must confess
Salt-a-holic, Twitter-a-holic. We're all so focused on our "a-holics."
Maybe it's not Twitter obsession. Maybe I, along with so many others, just want to spread love across the ether.
I can't help but think, though, that what's happening on so many of these social networking sites will someday become fodder for digital poetry books we've yet to download. Someday my tweets of love and passion could end up Kindled. My book on CEOs has already made it, why not a book of my tweets.
While I promised my husband I would not divulge the euphoria of our afternoon on Twitter, I said nothing about offering a tweet elsewhere about the spectacular event.
was it like stealing?/off to bed to embrace our feeling/during the daily-grind such a thing wasn't right/but we seized our afternoon delight
Have you noticed Limbaugh's deafening silence about the birthers since July 20th? Have you noticed how the birther movement was in the news virtually every day last week, how the mainstream press was debunking it and calling out the right-wing nonsense, how NBC's Nightly News referred to Limbaugh in its birther report, yet Limbaugh remained mum? Rather than step forward in his natural role as a birther defender and attacker of all-things Obama, Limbaugh has sat out the birther controversy and watched its members get mowed down in the press.
Limbaugh's scared to talk about the birthers and won't defend them because he has seen how Dobbs and the movement got manhandled by the press -- including by conservative commentators. Limbaugh saw how the press was sticking to the birth certificate facts and wasn't shy about knocking down high-paid radio hosts who tried to traffic in that nonsense.
And guess what? If Limbaugh won't back the birthers, that means most right-wing AM hosts won't either. Because that business is built upon a very simple (lemming) rule: Do whatever Rush does. And if Limbaugh won't line up on the side of the birthers, than means most AM talkers won't either, which means the birthers are going to be pushed back to the fringes where they belong.
And for that, we have Lou Dobbs to thank.
Read the entire Media Matters column here.
By the way, have I mentioned that my 19-year-old daughter's novel is a bestseller? Hancock Park by Isabel Kaplan has now made it onto the Los Angeles Times hardback fiction bestseller list for two weeks running.
If I haven't already buttonholed you - or emailed, Facebooked, Twittered, phoned or faxed you the news - it's only because you haven't been within hailing distance. So if you see someone swollen with parental pride, shouting from the rafters and rooftops, that would be me.
How a high school junior got a contract from HarperCollins to write a novel: that's a story of talent, pluck and luck. The luck part was learning that a woman she was talking to at a party was a player in the New York publishing world. The pluck was coolly pitching to her, on the spot, a novel about a privileged 16-year-old girl struggling to stay sane and grounded in the Los Angeles fast lane. The talent, and more than a little discipline, was writing a bitingly funny first chapter, plus a story outline, that turned the publishing executive's "Why don't you send me something?" into a deal.
It took two years to get from there to publication. When the executive had a falling-out with the publishing house, and most of the books she was shepherding were cancelled, it was more good luck that Izzy's manuscript was championed by a terrific editor there, who guided her through a year of revisions, proving E.B. White's adage that "the best writing is rewriting."
Actually, I don't really know how the book evolved; Izzy didn't show the manuscript to anyone but her editor until it was in bound galleys. That this caused me a certain amount of nervousness is captured by another writing adage: "Write what you know."
First novels, especially young authors' first novels, tend toward memoir. How fictionalized would Hancock Park turn out to be? After all, that's the real name of the Los Angeles neighborhood where I live, and where my daughter grew up and went to school. Was it so farfetched to imagine that other aspects of real life - like, oh, the time I promised her a cat but then welched on the deal - would also make their way into the book? And if the cat was fair game, what about all the other things, big and small, that happen inside a family? And what if those things weren't viewed from my, you know, mature and generous parental perspective, but were seen instead by a gimlet adolescent eye?
This anxiety prompted more than a few euphemistic pronouncements from me, during the year of rewrites, about the wonderful opportunities that writers of fiction have to make things up, to be sprung from the constraints of autobiography, to let the characters take the story in unexpected directions. A roman à clef, I breezily observed, wasn't nearly as interesting as a novel made from whole cloth.
It wasn't hard for Izzy to hear my pleading subtext. "Don't worry, Dad," she finally said, intending to quell my fears. "In the book, when the parents split up, the father takes up with a hottie half his age. No one would possibly think that was you." I guess I had that coming.
On the other hand, her friends' reaction to hearing that a novel was coming turned out to be mainly a hopeful, "Am I in it?" Even among blasé Hollywood kids, many of whose parents are boldfaced names, it's apparently more fun to be able to say about the mean girls in the story, "That's me!" than to hear that the characters are composites.
I suspect that the biggest reason to want to claim that a character is you is the possibility that the book will end up as a movie or television series. The question Izzy has probably been asked most frequently during her promotional outings has been, "Who would play you?" She always explains patiently that the book's narrator isn't her, it's a character, though when pressed she sometimes mentions Dakota Fanning (she played Tom Cruise's daughter in Stephen Spielberg's War of the Worlds). No one's asked me who would play me, but just in case a casting director should want my input, rather than explaining that the Dad isn't really me, I'm compiling a list of balding boomer hunks.
A few pages into reading my daughter's novel for the first time, my fear of being nailed by merciless prose melted away. What replaced it was wry laughter, and identification with the narrator's outsider sensibility, and absorption in the story, and above all the feeling, Hey, this is a really good writer. Perhaps, as the father of the author, I'm inherently incapable of having an objective view of something like that. That's why it's fortunate also to have the marketplace's opinion. Speaking of which, have I told you that Hancock Park made the bestseller list?
ABC's venerable news program "Nightline" has managed mostly to fly under the radar -- in an upward trajectory.
Viewership for the news show is up 14 percent in the last six weeks compared with the same week a year ago, and, in the most recent two weeks, the program has frequently grabbed the most viewers of the three shows.
The latest faux outrage in the debate over health care reform has to do with the terrible way President Barack Obama has treated doctors. Over the weekend, Fox News Sunday commenter Bill Kristol declared that Obama was "an arrogant man" who feels "entitled to pass judgment on Cambridge cops or pediatricians." That all tied back to a comment Obama had made about doctors' judgments during last week's prime time presser:
So if they're looking -- and you come in and you've got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, you know what, I make a lot more money if I take this kid's tonsils out. Now that may be the right thing to do, but I'd rather have that doctor making those decisions just based on whether you really need your kid's tonsils out or whether it might make more sense just to change -- maybe they have allergies, maybe they have something else that would make a difference.
According to Fox News's Bret Baier, that made some doctors angried-up something terrible! He told Robert Gibbs, "I've talked to a lot of doctors who were offended by that language. One sent an e-mail that said, 'To think I spent forty years training and borrowed $150,000 to become a doctor so I can take out a kid's tonsils because it's good for my bottom line is demeaning. I'm appalled.'"
I know! How dare anyone suggest that the Hippocratic Oath has been in any way trumped by the profit motives, right? I guess Obama will have to spend the August recess having beers with doctors, putting everyone's liver at risk!
But Obama's tonsilectomy example aside, the most distressing way in which our supposedly "best health care in the world" gets truly bare knuckled with regards to profit motives lies not in cases where unnecessary treatments were provided, but where necessary treatments were withheld. And on this week's edition of This American Life, entitled "Fine Print," the show does an excellent job penetrating this story in ways that aren't going to come to life in a presidential press conference.
In the segment, TAL takes on insurance applications with language so obscure and difficult to follow that their entire basis for existence seems predicated on the notion that applicants will make enough of the right sorts of mistakes so as to later make it easier to withhold treatment or deny coverage. The episode can be downloaded here, and the segment begins at about the thirty-six minute mark. The segment describes a couple of health care horror stories, including a woman whose previous acne condition was cited as the basis for denying her cancer treatment. Talk about demeaning things that appall!
In addition, James Kwak, at the Baseline Scenario, has a good post up on both this TAL segment and the underlying issues that will really add value to the listen and is heartily recommended. Kwak asserts that This American Life's segment proves that "they can cover any topic they want better than anyone else in the media." For my money, I think Kwak himself has added value to the segment by deftly connecting the issue of health insurance rescission to the financial mess:
This reminded me of nothing so much as all of those "innovations" created by credit card companies, such as universal default, penalty rates, and double-cycle billing, which are really just ways to generate fees that you are unlikely to accurately estimate at the time you sign up for the card. It's legal; it makes more money for the insurer (or credit card issuer); once one company does it, other companies have to, or they won't be able to compete; it's disclosed in such a way that customers don't understand what they are getting into; it nails you when can least afford it; and it even has a plausible economic justification. Credit card issuers claim that their arsenal of hidden fees makes the cost of credit more closely reflect the riskiness of the borrower, and without the fees they would have to charge higher interest to everyone; health insurers claim that rescission is necessary to deter fraudulent applications, and presumably without it they would have to charge higher premiums to everyone.
The devil, as they say, is in the details.