Thursday, October 30, 2008

He Is... I Say... Bad book

I've started freelancing for Heeb Magazine, a magazine for young, Jewish hipsters.

I think they think I'm Jewish. Do I care? No. Have I told them any different? No.

Check out the Fall issue for my book review of the terrible book on Neil Diamond, He Is...I Say by David Wild. I gave it two Jewish stars. For realsies.

Or, just read it right here:

David Wild's latest pop culture tribute, He Is...I Say, reads pretty much like a teenager's love letter to her favorite heartthrob. Wild bolsters Diamon's unsung heor status throughout, referring to the songwriter as a "genuine romantic poet," and provides an unnecessary amount of quotes and lyrics to support his head-over-heels thesis. The depths to which Wild strives to share his passion for his favorite musician are endearing, but ultimately this schmaltzy gush-fest is for true Diamondheads only.


Yes We Carve

What follows is a post I wrote for our magazine's online blog:

Why waste your time getting cavities and turning blue-collar occupations into "sexy" getups on Halloween? Instead, show everyone that your blood runs blue (that’s Democratic, not aristocratic) by carving your Obama pride into a pumpkin. Just go to Yes We Carve, a site that provides downloadable Obama-themed stencils so you can create your very own Barack-o’-lantern. Choose from the Obama campaign logo, Barack’s profile and well-known campaign slogans—all are surely more inspiring than square-toothed grins and broom-riding witches. Progress, right? McCain/Palin supporters be forewarned: Yes We Carve has a strict "No Attack O’Lantern" policy.

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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The night I inadvertently disrupted production of a Keira Knightley film

Why am I writing this post at 3:07AM? Let's figure this equation: Lots of beer + diner food at 10pm = INDIGESTION LIKE CRAAAAZY

Anyway, tonight was another work event: an Oktoberfest on a rooftop at a swanky hotel in the Meatpacking District. German technopop, German beer, and drunk co-workers made for a fantastic evening. Of course, the only German song anyone knew was "99 Red Balloons," but I digress.

After the open bar ended and the beer ran out, Abi and I left the hotel. As we got out on the street, a man in a big, puffy winter coat stopped us. Evidently, they were filming a movie on the street and they didn't want us to ruin the shot.

Of course, in true Amanda fashion, I got belligerant and started screaming that this was a public sidewalk and I didn't care what movie was being filmed- you can't stop someone from walking down the street in New York City. While I was yelling, Abi saw the star of the film- Keira Knightley. Psh, whatever.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

The weekend I lost all of my money

So this past weekend, I ventured to Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut for a mini college reunion weekend since we all missed Alumni Weekend proper.

Since Kari and Gabe live in the Boston area, they drove down together, and I took the train to meet up with Tim in New Jersey and then we drove up together. We chose Foxwoods because it was supposed to be a central location for all of us. FUNNY STORY: It took Kari and Gabe an hour and a half to get there. Tim drove three hours. Here's my travel schedule:

Brooklyn to Penn Station: 40 minutes
Penn Station to Morristown by way of NJ Transit: 1 hour and 30 minutes
Morristown to Foxwoods: 3 hours

For all of you communications majors out there, let me do the math for you: that's over FIVE HOURS of travel. Central location, my ass.

Regardless, it was a lot of fun.

Add Video
The hotel we stayed at offered free shuttle service to and from the casino, so as soon as we checked in, we boarded the shuttle. We were short one seat so Gabe sat on my lap, next to two ghetto fabulous ladies, not unlike Queen Latifah (but less fabulous, and less teeth). They expressed concern that I should be sitting on Gabe's lap and not the other way around. Gabe told them that he could sit on their laps instead. Laughter ensued and Queen Latifah #1 pointed out that Gabe was turning red. Queen Latifah #2 said, "I ain't turnin' red cuz I'm BLACK!"


Then, the Queens decided it was okay for Gabe to be sitting on my lap, saying "Let her feel the goodies!"

Wonderful. We hadn't even gotten to the casino and we had already become pal-sy with the dregs of society.

After spending nearly seven hours at the black jack tables, and countless drinks, I was down $300.


We're in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and here I am, throwing my hard-earned money away at the black jack tables. Moron. I tried to drown my sorrows in a drink at the Hard Rock Cafe, but the waitress refused to serve me. I guess we could say that there was a direct correlation between drinks and the loss of many dollars.

Looks like a few weeks of Ramen for me to make up for it. Luckily for me that my job affords me gratis swanky events with open bars. Otherwise, my social calendar would be looking pretty damn dismal right about now.


Don't Let this Happen

My boss sent me this hysterical video this morning.

You can add anyone's name to it and send.


Friday, October 24, 2008

I would totally live here if not for the 50 reasons I've come up with for not living here.

Thursday night was yet another work event with an open bar.

This time, it was for a real estate client whose brand-new condo is locat
ed in Morningside Heights, a supposedly up-and-coming neighborhood located at 110th street. For those of you unfamiliar with the street topography of New York City, let me tell you the only piece of information you need to connect the dots in this story: Harlem is located around 125th street.

Up-and-coming, my ass.

Actually, I didn't think it was that bad, but Abi was freaking the fuck out. I told her that she needs to stop being a racist. I think she was traumatized by the colorful ride we had on the way there on the wonderful C train, which involved a homeless man named Richard was selling packages of Bic pens that he probably stole from Duane Reade (not that they don't deserve it).

A direct quote from our friend Richard: "I ain't here to start a fight. I just wanna help y'all write."

Yeah, okay, Richard.

When we got to the event we guzzled white wine for a couple of hours and checked out the model apartments. We were actually really impressed with how swanky they were. But hey, for $2,300 a month, for a studio apartment, they better be fucking swanky. Also- 110th street is not a convenient address by any
means- that is, unless you're in "public relations" (read: you're a hooker) and your "office" (read: street corner) is in Harlem.

After the open bar ended, we hopped a train to the East Village and scouted out a restaurant suitable for a late dinner. We ended up at Good Stuff Diner, mainly because we had been walking for blocks and only saw restaurants claiming to have Chinese AND Latina cuisine. Good Stuff Diner also had obnoxious signs in all of their windows announcing that they had been named as a good place to eat by my magazine.

Ultimately, Good Stuff Diner was, well, good, despite the shoddy service.

I knew we were in trouble when I ordered a chocolate milkshake and our waiter brought me chocolate milk. I knew it wasn't my fault because I annunciate whenever food is involved. And really? A chocolate milk? What am I? Six years old?

Have you ever been to a restaurant where your server could barely speak English? W
hen this happens, do you have the sneaking suspicion that they have no idea what you're saying because they're just smiling and saying yes? And you know that although they're writing things down on their pad that it's more likely that they're drawing something like this than actually taking down your order?

I got a little cranky because of this happening, but really, how could I be indignant while I was drunkenly singing the Law & Order theme song at the top of my lungs? Answer? I couldn't. And regardless, they make a really good burger.

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I am the Energy Drink Guru

Awhile back, I wrote a post about the cases of an energy drink called Guru that we got delivered to my office.

You know, the ones I became ADDICTED to for the entire summer because drinking one can made me feel like I had enough energy to push the subway home.

It became an inside joke around the office that the Guru made us do it. "It was the Guru talking," we would say.

Shortly after my Guru obsession reached epic proportions, I was featured in the magazine's weekly Staff Pick, which features our picture, our plans for the weekend, and a self-written epithet, as in "Your Name- Yankees Fan." Mine was "Energy Drink Guru."
We all had a laugh, but I didn't think anyone outside of the office would get it or even pay any attention to it.

Fast-forward a few weeks after my Staff Pick is featured, I receive a package in the mail from EBoost, a powdered energy drink supplement, along with a hand-written note from an EBoost rep saying that since I was an "Energy Drink Guru," maybe I'd like to try it and let her know what I think of it.

Is this a calling? Will other energy drink companies be clamoring for a minute with the Energy Drink Guru?
In all honestly, the stuff kind of gave me heart palpatations, but hey, if it's free, I'ma take it.

I still have a special place in my heart for Guru, but then a friend sent me a New York Times article that says some energy drinks can contain as much caffeine as 14 cans of Coke in ONE drink.
This explains the sudden euphoria and subsequent crash.

I guess I better lay off the sauce.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Break out your magnifying glasses (again)

Wrote another blurb for Every Day With Rachael Ray Magazine's November issue, which is on newsstands now. It's about the health benefits (via vitamins and nutrients) typical Thanksgiving foods and how they'll help you get through the holidays with your extended family. Check it out if you're so inclined.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Everyone is stupid except for me

This extra-long blog post is brought to you by three Heinekens and an insatiable, irrepressable sense of bitter competition.

Everyone has a memoir, or intends to write a memoir, or has a title picked out for their memoir that they know they’ll never actually write.

When I was twelve years old, I started writing my own memoir. The first chapter was titled “A Star is Born.” Most girls are plagued with pre-pubescent insecurities and eating disorders, and there I was, writing my memoirs with self-serving chapter titles like “A Star is Born.”

After perusing the “Biography” section at Barnes & Noble, I am disgusted by how many people have made a fantastic living, writing about themselves. Whenever I read a memoir that makes the mundane incredibly funny and interesting via observational humor (ala Jerry Seinfeld or Ellen DeGeneres), I get angry, and then immediately start writing.

If they can do it, why can’t I?

Of course I can do it. But, come on, writing is HARD. Not to sound like a whiny, self-important writer-type, but writing really is hard, in the sense that writing a book, a real book comprised of hundreds of pages, is an incredibly daunting task. I can’t even watch a television without my laptop nearby, allowing me the ability to check my email for the thousandth time or engage in a pointless game of online Scrabble, so how the hell can I be expected to have the attention span it requires to write an entire book?

I have dozens of books that I’ve started and abandoned. I can’t write fiction because everything sounds too forced and ridiculous. I fall into the amateur’s mistake: over-description. My main character isn’t just wearing a sweater. She’s wearing a sweater, the color of an eggplant that she ate two winters ago, back when times were much, much simpler.

That pratfall, coupled with the fact that I am completely and totally only interested in things in which I am an integral part of the plot or story, make it virtually impossible for me to write anything that is not a memoir.

I’ll also start writing a book and then after I’ve gotten a page or two in, I’ll start congratulating myself on a job well done. God, you’re good. Does anyone else know how good you are? Man, everyone is stupid except for you.

Then I’ll imagine all of the accolades I’ll receive: the interviews on The Today Show, the New York Times bestseller list, the coveted position on Oprah’s Book Club. Then reality will set in and I’ll realize three things: 1.) You’ve only written two fucking pages, asshole. 2.) You are really, really drunk. 3.) Don’t you know that nothing you’ll ever write will be on Oprah’s Book Club list? You haven’t struggled with anything. You haven’t overcome any great adversity. You’ve always gotten everything you’ve ever wanted.

And that’s the problem.

Of course, I’ve had problems in my life, but nothing so significant that I can dedicate a whole book to.

Nine times out of ten, my problems amount to a.) I’m so stressed out because I have so many great opportunities laid before me by influential people who recognize and want to cultivate my potential b.) My parents call me three times a day because they love and support me completely and all they want to do is hear about my day and I AM SO ANNOYED BY THAT.

So, what does that charmed existence leave me to write about? The memoirs I like the most are drug memoirs. I’ve never done drugs in my life. Well, except for that one time I smoked pot accidentally on my birthday. You see, these drug people are more clever than you’d think. There I was, completely shitfaced, and a friend was smoking what looked like a cigarette. Apparently, it was marijuana packed into a pipe that was supposed to look exactly like a cigarette. I wanted a drag and what I got was drugs.

And so, my sole flirtation with drugs amounted to a paragraph, not a book.

In the same vein of prematurely congratulating myself for a fantastic job on a book I haven’t written yet, I also write as though everyone I’ve ever met is going to read it. In fact, while I’m writing it, I imagine that people I know are reading it. This not only hinders the writing process, it’s highly unrealistic.

My first book, an insignificant attempt at being a serious writer, was written over three weeks when I was eighteen years old. It was published by a small publisher who was under investigation by the government for shady business practices. Regardless, the book was in my hands, and available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble’s websites. And yet, not one of my friends have read it.

“Why do I need to read your book?” they said, after it was published. “I can just talk to you. It’s not like you’re shy about telling us exactly what you think about every fucking thing.”

This, of course, is true. But at least buy the stupid book, you assholes. It’s like $14.95. We go out every weekend and spend $50 on beer and Irish nachos, but you can’t fork over $14.95 to buy your friend’s book? You’re all dead to me. ALL OF YOU.

It’s also really hard to write a book when you have very little self-doubt. This is why I have trouble doing freelance writing. As far as I’m concerned, everything I write is brilliant. It’s like the ink in my pen is made up of incredibly articulate angels from above. And still, the editor has the power to change every word I write, and I have no say over it whatsoever. Imagine what this feels like to a total control freak, to, for all intents and purposes, have no control over what you’ve written.

You turn in your final draft to your editor and they respond back, telling you it’s great, and regaling you with smiley face emoticons, and then you pick up the issue of the magazine a few months down the line and your work is unrecognizable.

So, basically, whenever I read a few chapters of a good, witty, funny, thought-provoking memoir, I immediately slam the book shut and start writing. Is it because I really want to write, or is it because I live for competition and I can’t deal when someone does something I’m good at better than I can?

Okay, not better.

But they’ve got a book deal, don’t they?

I interned at a major publishing house and after six months of sitting in on weekly editorial meetings, it became clear to me that anyone can get a book deal. Seriously, anyone. Kind of like anyone can become a vice presidential nominee, or anyone can get arrested if they try hard enough. You just have to knuckle down and commit to doing it. Oh, and you also have to have a marketable idea.

After the popularity of David Sedaris’s droll, witty essays, and James Frey’s controversial tell-all drug rehab story, memoirs became a publisher’s ticket to the best seller list. Because hey, people love to read about other people’s misery or humorous observations. Either or, really. Combine the two? BLOCKBUSTER.

Probably not.

It’s kind of evil, but the best way to sell an idea is figure out what people want and create from there. People don’t want 600-page tomes set in Elizabethan England anymore. They want accessible, first-person narratives about the ludicriousness of everyday life, or self-help books selling the idea that they can do something better, if only they follow these eight simple steps.

But what do I want to say? And even if I say what I want to, isn’t it incredibly arrogant to assume that anyone other than myself or my parents will want to read it? There are authors who’ve made careers for themselves by churning out memoir after memoir.

Hey, douchebag, you think your life is so fucking interesting that you can write six books about it? Yeah, well, I’ve got a title for your seventh memoir; it’s called NO ONE FUCKING CARES.

I’m so abrasive about the subject because I’m totally jealous. I would like nothing better than to spend my whole life writing pithy anecdotes about my stupid little life and have scores of people gobble them up like I constantly have something brilliant and worthwhile to say.

But first, I need to figure out something brilliant and worthwhile to say.

Two Things that are Brilliant and Worthwhile to Say:

  1. Why do people clap at the end of the movies at movie theatres? The actors aren’t here. The director’s not here. For fuck’s sake, the Best Boy or the Key Grip aren’t even here. Whatever they are. Who are you applauding for? The projectionist? The fifteen-year-old kid with the flashlight who came in the room for a whole five seconds and then went back to flirting with the popcorn girl at the concession stand? STOP CLAPPING. Get up from your seat, put on your jacket, and clear the aisle. Some people have a long subway ride home.
  2. I am so sick and fucking tired of spending my life waiting in line for the bathroom at events, shows, concerts, restaurants, bars, etc. If you counted up collectively how long I’ve waited in line for the bathroom in my entire life, it would certainly add up to at least 24 hours of waiting time. A whole day of my life that I’ll never get back. It takes me about 30 seconds to pee, ladies, and you know what? It should take you about 30 seconds too. I come out of the bathroom stall in the ladies room and people look at me in astonishment. Like I’m some sort of genetic freak. It’s not 1860. We don’t have corsets and bloomers to deal with here. What is the freaking hold up? Seriously, if bitches don’t start hurrying up, they’re going to start getting some elbows to the face. I’ve got places to go and drinks to drink.
Can I get a book deal now? THANKS.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

W. is for Weak

Yes, I went and saw Oliver Stone's much talked about biopic, W. on opening night. It wasn't because I wanted to see it THAT bad, but I did buy into the hype a little bit.

Everyone said that because Oliver Stone is so crazy-liberal that he wouldn't be able to make an unbiased biographical film, especially about a guy who a.) is still alive and b.) is still the sitting president. And while it definitely wasn't unbiased, it wasn't as brutal as most people would think.

Yes, it portrays Dubya as an idiot, but in doing that, Stone kind of lets him off the hook for all of the horrible shit that he's gotten us into over his two terms in office. I don't believe that he just didn't know all of the stuff that was going on. Regardless, I left the movie theatre feeling sorry for him, which is not a feeling you want to have for someone who fucked everything so badly.

Also, Stone didn't touch 9/11. Didn't go anywhere near it. I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that when you're making a biopic about a president and you completely redact the single most defining moment of that person's presidency, you're not doing a particularly good job at storytelling. Don't worry, though, the whole choking on a pretzel scene is in there. What a cop out.

What it comes down to is that the movie, while decent, lacks focus. Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? A dramedy? I couldn't tell. The acting and impersonations of everyone, from Dubya, to Colin Powell, to Dick Cheney, to Condoleeza Rice in particular, were so completey accurate that it was comical. Many times, it felt like a Saturday Night Live sketch. I was waiting for Tina Fey to burst in and do her spot-on Palin impression.

Not good, Oliver. Not good.

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Fall into Fall

So finally, on October 18, fall weather has made its way to Brooklyn.

This means many things for my life: I can finally wear jackets, I will no longer be dripping with sweat by the time I get onto the elevator at the office in the morning, and that the heat in my apartment has been turned on.

As a personal FYI, I tend to sleep with the air conditioning cranked to high even when it's cold out. Unfortunately for me, because my building is a pre-war brownstone, the heating system is essentially a floor-to-ceiling, white-hot metal pole in each room.

I have no control over the crazy-hot metal poles. I am not happy.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Celebrity Stalking


There are more details to come.

But yesterday morning, I was followed around by a paparrazzo for a freelance assignment I'm doing.

It was creepy, so creepy that I felt bad for celebrities. You can't go to the store without someone across the street taking a photo of you with a giant camera. It's a bizarre feeling to know you're being watched and followed by a stranger.

I said this to my roommate and she said, "Yeah, well, they can cry into their millions."

I'll post the article when I'm done.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

We will do everything

After a night of large daquiris at Dallas BBQ, Abi and I headed to Dempsey's, our favorite bar in the East Village. While there, Smithwick's beer was doing a promotion, which involved free beer, t-shirts, and bottle openers. What, am I back in Poughkeepsie again? Did I teleport back to Darby O'Gills for a second?

After a beer or two, I noticed something carved on the table:

What shall we do with our lives?

I used the bottle opener to carve my response:



Sunday, October 05, 2008

Weekend Recap

This weekend, my parents came to visit, so we did a fair deal of running around the city.

On top of this, it was a hectic work week as I took a personal day on Friday, and one of my co-workers had her goodbye party after work on Thursday night. Of course, at the goodb
ye party, I was all kids of belligerant, dubbing the publicist "Last Call Lindsay" and threatened people from the Circulation Department with physical violence. Professional- always.

The goodbye party was at a bar called Hallo Berlin, a throwback to Germany before communism fell. We sat outside in the biergarden and marvell
ed at the mock Berlin Wall's realistic qualities like EFFING BARBED WIRE.

Yeah, let a bunch of drunks stand around barbed wire. Sounds safe. I digress. After we had apparently 11 pitchers of beer, we left, but I eventually found myself stumbling around Times Square, unable to find the F train station. Hello, $40 cab ride home.

My parents and brother arrived in the city on Friday morning and we spent the day wandering around DUMBO and my neighborhood. They insisted that I stay in the hotel with them, so I packed a bag that included no pajamas, no hairbrush, and no shoes other than red peeped-toe pumps.

Here are two observations I've gleaned from this experience:

1. My incompetence is astounding: how can I be known at work as a super assistant- on top of everything, organize, super-efficient- but when it comes to my personal life, I forget when packing an overnight bag, that hey, I might need CLOTHES.

2. When you can fit into your little brother's pajamas, TIME NEEDS TO START STANDING STILL.

We went to Caroline's Comedy Club on Friday night, DL Hughley was the headliner, and while he was good, I preferred the opener. I've been to Caroline's twice, and I reccommend it for anyone visiting the city or just looking for a fun night out. Tickets are usually only $30 and the drinks reasonably priced.

The next day, my brother and father walked across the Brooklyn Bridge while my mother bought me a new fall wardrobe. Head's up for broke folk: Old Navy is having a killer Columbus Day sale- jeans, sweaters, and blazers are only $14.92.

We went for dinner at the renowned River Cafe in DUMBO, and funny story- I didn't know the menu was prix fixed at $98 a head. Sorry, Dad.

The meal was outstanding, though and the view was gorgeous. Check it out:

All in all, it was a great weekend but now I have to do laundry and try to get myself unburied at work. Wah wahhhh.

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Break out your magnifying glasses

Break out your magnifying glasses, everyone!

I've started freelancing for Every Day With Rachael Ray magazine and my 20 word article on the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta (SHUT UP) is on page 26 of the October issue.