Thursday, December 17, 2009

An open letter to a PR person...

Dear PR person,

Hello. How are you? Wait a minute -- don't answer that -- I don't really care. Did you know that this is the third time you have contacted me about your idea/event/book? Are you familiar with our magazine? Oh, wait again, clearly you're not or you wouldn't be pitching me your idea/event/book.

See, we are a monthly regional publication that writes about specific things happening in a specific area in Maine. And being a monthly publication means that the event you are pitching me that is going to be happening this weekend will not be able to make it into the next magazine because it's already gone to print. We send our January/February magazine to the printer in the beginning of December so that it's on the shelves in a timely fashion.

And if you have taken the time to look at our publication online, you will see that we don't cover people from out-of-state, rock bands on tour, or do book reviews, though thanks for that free CD and book. No I haven't listened to it or read it and I probably won't.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Robert Frost was smart....

I'm reading a biography of Robert Frost that was lent to me by a friend. I've never been taken by his poetry in the way I am with other poets (Stephen Dobyns for example) but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in this American wordsmith.

In reading the first chapters I have come to a conclusion: people growing up in the educational system in the late 1800s and early 1900s were smarter than kids growing up now.

Sure it's a bold statement, but I really believe it to be true and here's why: there was no technology to waste their time. Sure, we're technologically savvy today. We know how to blog, facebook, twit, post videos on YouTube, tivo, and text. All of these distractions are getting in our way of being able to reason and think for ourselves.

Think about it...back in the day the only books around were what we call "classics" today. It was expensive to print books and there weren't as many. Heck -- you can pay a meager fee to publish your OWN book today! Kids back then read Homer and learned how to understand it! Parents read to their kids for entertainment. They didn't read Dr. Seuss, they read serious books! Books I probably can't understand now as a 30-something.

Don't get me wrong. I like technology. But I wonder if all these laptops in the classroom and fancy schmancy calculators are really doing us a whole lot of good if we can't read a paragraph or a chapter and talk about it thoughtfully?


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jenny 8. Lee took the buyout!

I saw in this Gawker post that Jennifer 8. Lee took the buyout from the New York Times and I'm a little surprised. She was sort of a "star" if you will of the metro section...with name recognition and all.
Jenny 8. Lee, who has spent the last two years as one of the creative and daring and agile brains behind City Room, and her instincts and inventiveness have helped make it the second most popular blog in our empire.

My friend Kaija from NYU j-school shadowed Lee for a story and I was sorta jealous. I'm dying to know what her plans are...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What Mimi Saw: Les Otten commercial

Les Otten is running for governor. I've been seeing his commercials all over the TV. In his 30 second appearance, Otten says the word "jobs" every five seconds.

A "gap year" before college...

I really liked reading this opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal this weekend. I also think it's kind of cool that this dad (Steve Yoder) has his kids, Isaac and Levi, pitch in on this column -- it gives another perspective that I really like.

I really wanted to take a "gap year" between high school and college. I had it all planned out. I was going to graduate from high school and then head off to a country in Central America (my first pick was Mexico) to be an American Field Service student. We had had lots of AFS students at my high school and I had been planning on being in the program since I was a sophomore. I wasn't even really thinking about college during my junior year when the rest of my friends were visiting schools across the country. As far as I was concerned I was going to live with a Mexican family and study at a Mexican high school and take a cultural year before hitting the books.

My senior year it all came crashing down.

The AFS age rules changed and I was too old to study abroad anywhere but Switzerland. I had spent 4 years studying Spanish and I wasn't content to spend a year learning French or German. I wanted to perfect my spanish! I cried a lot. I pleaded with AFS to make an exception for me. Nothing worked. I was devastated. My year of culture wasn't going to happen. Without an alternate plan I decided I'd have to head off to college after all.

I attended Northeastern University in Boston for my freshman year. I loved that school and I loved the city but it was a hard year for me. I knew a lot of people but I only had one really close friend. I was used to having tons of close friends and I was lonely a lot of the time. I was also financially strapped. Northeastern is a private school and it was expensive. It's also a 5-year school with a year planned in for internships. After my first year I decided to transfer back to the University of Maine in my hometown. It was a hard decision. I ended up becoming depressed and spent a sad semester in Maine.

But when live gives you lemons you make lemonade. I applied for an National Student Exchange (which is just like studying abroad except it's for schools in the U.S.) and chose a school in Baltimore, Towson University, to attend. It was the only school I was interested in and they had a great film/television program. I was also accepted into the Disney College Program and after one semester at UMaine, I packed my bags for a semester of learning and working in Orlando, Florida. That experience changed my perspective and I had a marvelous time. I consider that semester to be a semester off -- even though I did earn 3 college credits.

I had decided that If I wasn't accepted to Towson thorough the student exchange I was going to join the Peace Corps. UMaine wasn't for me. I longed for adventure. But I was accepted to Towson and I enrolled there for a year, paying my in-state tuition to UMaine.

I embraced Towson and ended up transferring there after my year was up. I ended up graduating from there in the winter of 2000.

I didn't have your normal college experience, and I wonder if I had taken that year after high school to study in another country if I would have followed the same path. Probably not. I wonder if I would have studied the same thing in college had I spent a year in Mexico. I have no idea. Perhaps I would have been more interested in spanish, education, or humanitarian work. Perhaps I wouldn't have gone to college at all -- but I find that unlikely. I really love learning.

When one door closes another door opens. It's cheesy but it's true I think. When I couldn't go to Mexico I did other things, not letting unhappiness stand in my way. I have always been one to take opportunities that present themselves to me. That's how I got my job working at Camden Yards for the Orioles in production. That's how I ended up in Baltimore in the first place. That's how I got my first real job at a post-production house in Boston. That's how I got into NYU for grad school and ended up working for publications like PRWeek, Inc. Magazine, and The Star-Ledger. That's also how I got the job I'm at now.

I learned from my AFS experience of NOT being able to study abroad that the worst someone can say is "no" and that the only person who can make me happy is me. My grandmother once told me that if you don't get what you like, like what you get. I prefer to keep trying to get what I like until I'm happy.

So should students take a year off before heading to college? I think it is a great opportunity, especially for students who aren't really sure what they want to study. Even taking a semester off or a year off in college, like my sister did to hike the Appalachian Trail, is a great idea. You are only young once. Time is too precious to waste floating through your own life without direction. Gain a perspective, make goals, and reach matter what they are.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Half Broke Horses

Melanie Brooks + Jeannette Walls = TLA.

I wish.

I fell so deeply in love with Jeannette's (yes we're on a first name basis) The Glass Castle that I almost 86'd a friend from my life because she kept forgiving to bring the copy I loaned her back to me. We have since reconciled and the book is happily back on my bookshelf, tucked in between Me Talk Pretty One Day and The Worst Hard Time.

I do have to confess that I bought this book with the intention of giving it away as a Christmas present. I was out of reading material and thought I could covertly read this novel and THEN gift it away. I have been very careful to not break the binding and I haven't dog-earred one single page.

But the book became my friend. Lily Casey Smith, the narrator and Jeannette's grandma, is too fun to give away. I can't. The book is now mine. I am happy about this.

But one thing makes me think -- and that is, how did my friend Jeannette know what her grandma talked like? Lily has a very pronounced way of talking and uses certain words in her conversation. He has a definite voice. Did Jeannette know this voice or did she make it up? I always wonder this when I read books like this. I wonder how realistic it all is. I mean, I believe the things that happened really happened -- I don't think Jeannette is making up her grandmother's life -- but was her grandmother REALLY this plucky woman she is made out to be? Did she really say things like "crum bum?"

In any case, it's not stopping me from loving this book. I have a literary and professional crush on my friend Jeannette. I'm so lucky to have her in my life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Oh Tiger Woods...

You say that you are "dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny really means" and that "personal sins should not require press releases and problems within a family shouldn't have to mean public confessions."

Um. You're a celebrity darling. Don't you know that yet?

Celebrities are not held to the same standards of privacy as normal citizens. It's sort of what celebrity means. The fact that you thought you could have an affair with a 24-year-old cocktail waitress and keep it a secret makes me giggle. If heads of state can't put the kaibosh on their extra-marital affairs, what makes you think you could do the same?

You are a superstar in the world of gold and, heck, athletics as a whole. You are good at your job. You are a role model for athletes of all ages. Is it too much to ask that you also be a good person? I mean, I THOUGHT you were a good person. You have a nice smile, you don't throw temper tantrums, you have a lovely wife and a child, and you are close to your family. I suppose I just assumed you would have a semblance of respect for that.

But, you are a celebrity. You have wanton needs that can't be fulfilled by everyday life. What's a sexy little cocktail waitress here and there -- especially if they spell their name Jaimee? No big deal...right?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What Mimi Saw: Gossip Girl

My excuse: I was bored. I don't usually watch TV, but I was home alone with nothing crafty to work on and my head hurt. I didn't want to think. But watching Gossip Girl actually gave me a lot to think about -- like...

  • Why are these 19-year-olds always talking about "going out for a drink" when they aren't legally old enough to get into a bar?

  • How is Serena qualified to work for a congressman without even having an internship or a college degree?

  • How in the world did Trip even get voted in as a congressman? He's like 20-years-old.

  • If Lily seriously did hang out by herself in her massive apartment throughout the better part of Thanksgiving drinking glass after glass of wine, how come she never got drunk?

  • Why is Taylor Momsen so skinny?

  • Why can't Chuck open his eyes?

  • What's wrong with Serena's mouth? It looks like she's constantly sucking on a Jolly Rancher or something.

  • Why is it that out of all of these kids only Vanessa goes to college?

  • How did Chase get that motorcycle into his apartment?

    It's amazing that just one episode created so many thought provoking questions! This is what American television is all about.