The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

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My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Thoughts That Don't Deserve Their Own Blog Post

Grabbing my daily quota of mindless drivel (which is sort of like taking a vitamin, but I believe reading these things is much much healthier), I clicked on a story about Kate from Jon and Kate Plus 8 that remained with me long after I clicked over to read how Michelle Trachtenberg felt about Sarah Michelle Gellar's pregnancy announcement.

In the article she said, "When I see magazines in stores it's really difficult. It amazes me there is an industry that follows you around and writes stories about you. It destroys peoples' lives. I need you to know, don't believe what you read unless you hear it from that person."

I'm not sure if she is speaking about traditional media or gossip magazines--I guess I sort of took the quote as referring to any articles ( posts) about her. And the flippant answer is that when you put yourself in the public's eye, you should expect people to write about you. But this really deserves a two-fold examination.

(1) How have we crossed over from discussing the work to discussing the person? Writing about James Frey's book--either as a review or as an article--is understandable. Even discussing his behaviour and the fallout from the Oprah blah blah blah is understandable. But what about writing about what he's wearing? Or his marriage? Or where he went on vacation--why do we cross the line from interest about the work to interest about the person? I mean, yes, it's harder with Kate because her "work" is a reality show therefore her life is the work. But still, at what point does reading about the scandals go from discussing the work to Divorce Watch 2009?

(2) At what point do you place yourself in the public's eye? I mean, is anyone who steps onto the television or movie screen "in the public's eye?" Do you need to be earning a certain dollar amount? I mean, are all the Orcs in the Lord of the Rings trilogy fair game for the gossip magazines/blogs? When you take a step back, every single person who leaves their home or interacts with others places themselves in the public's eye. Therefore, are we all fair game to have our lives documented and commented on by others? And does everyone want to read about the breakfast cereal mixture I've created because it's fascinating and People magazine-worthy, in my opinion.

I am incredibly stressed about time, acutely aware that every moment from now until the end of summer has been blocked off and claimed and smacked down and choke-holded. The prior thought doesn't really convey a person stressed about time--I mean, I obviously have enough time to read about Kate's thoughts on celebrity--but please trust me that I am. That I am not only focused on the to-do list and what needs to get done, but also simply the passing of time, the fact that the ChickieNob painted her nails for the first time or that there is more grey in my hair or that the 50-pound bag of rice that Josh purchased that we said we'd never eat our way through is slowly dwindling.

I think about seconds, minutes, and hours every time I stoop down to refill the rice container from that 50-pound bag.

On a lighter note, I am having a musical resurgence thanks to Baby Smiling in Back Seat's post about Don Quixote. It made me think of the Man of La Mancha which made me pull out the Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Though my absolute favourite is Jesus Christ Superstar. I like to play every part and have mastered the back-and-forth between Jesus and Judas right before the end of the first act where they're somewhat singing their accusations over each other. It took a really long time to accomplish that. A lot of showers.

I am finally curious about the Twilight series. I'm not sure if I'll like it and while it obviously isn't the largest commitment in the world, if I can only pack X amount of books for the beach, I don't want to bring one that's going to grate on me after a few pages. Therefore, does anyone have strong feelings on either side about the Twilight series? Background information you should know in helping me make this decision: I love Harry Potter and I'm assuming that Twilight will follow in the same vein (albeit for an older audience), I like the story of how she came up with the series, and I'm totally down with vampires. I mean, I wouldn't want to hang out with them, but I have a healthy respect for them. Will I like it? Or not?


one-hit_wonder said...

Twilight is anti-feminist, that's for sure. I think it plays into fantasies of being hunted by a sultry and brooding guy who saves your life, but then refuses to touch you for fear of defilement (and who even pretends to hate you so that you'll stay safely away from him). Very 'Jane and Mr Rochester.' It seems romantic, but really, I wonder what messages adolescent girls (and boys) are picking up from the books and film.

Julie said...

Twilight is extremely poorly written. Immediate turnoff.

A Mom in Jacksonville, FL said...

I disagree with the prior 2 comments. I LOVE the "Twilight" books. And while Bella is a bit "weak," in the first book, by the end of the series (4 books total) she ends up saving Edward every bit as much as he saves her. I didn't feel the novels were "anti-feminist," especially after reading the entire series...I feel they show STRONG female characters (Alice and Esme along with Bella.)

I am an 8th grade reading teacher. I avoided these books for a long while, beacuase I am not into vampires or gore. However, this year I "gave in." I wanted to read the novels before viewing the movie. Turns out they are some of my favorite teen lit ever. (And MUCH better than the film, in my opinion.)

Mrs. Higrens said...

Twilight's not bad per se, but to me it lacked the depth of HP. If you can find the time to read the first chapter or two before you leave, that may be enough to tell you if you want to make room for the first book or two in your packing or not.

Downsides: I didn't really like the main character, but the other characters were interesting enough to get me through the series. Also, have to agree with Julie that a good editor could have improved the books.
Upsides: An engaging enough series for vacation reading, and the books are long enough unless you are a speed reader (like I am) you won't run out of reading material over a week.

astral said...

I really enjoyed the Twilight series. The series got off to a slow start but after that I was hooked. I think it would be good beach reading.

sky girl said...

I really liked the Twilight series. Not the best writing but a captivating story. I couldn't read them fast enough. Do you like vampire stuff?

Anonymous said...

On the subject of fame and privacy...I supposed it's a double edged sword: the trappings of fame minus the lack of privacy and utter facination that people hold for the humdrums, mistakes and general goings on of your life. I suppose the best advice to give someone dealing with fame is to 'live like they're mother is always watching'. Unfortunately, many who get caught up in the fame game think they are 'above' the general standards of wrongdoing. Unfortunately, as much as the world loves to watch David rise from nothingness, they much prefer to watch Goliath get smacked right between the eyes.'s my take on Twilight (and I'll admit I'm only about halfway through book #1). I picked it up because the teens I see are reading it (and I need to be current on such topics) and because a message board I frequent has the "Edward Cullen Fertility Plan". Totally dumb and superstitious, but whatever.

I have only read the book while waiting for RE appointments...and I really haven't been inspired yet to pick it up and read all night long like I do with so many other books. I think it doesn't help that I'm not 13. I also am probably a bit a book 'snob'...the writing is really not that beautiful, complex or interesting in its presentation.

But, it seems generally harmless enough compared to the smut I was reading in middle school (mostly, cough, my mom's old Danielle Steel novels and some John Jakes as well...oh yeah, and the trashy 'Flowers in the Attic' series). If it gets kids to read who normally wouldn't than I'm certainly a fan.

But don't expect to be blown away.

farmerswife06 said...

I agree with the Mom in Jacksonville Fla. She is spot on!!!
These books are not at all Anti-feminist. I think you will really enjoy them. Its a beautiful love story!!! I think the movie didn't do the story justice. But that's just me. I think you should try and read a chapter or 2 like the PP said. If it catches your intrest you will really need to pack at the very least the 1st and 2nd book. I read all 4 in a week!! I couldn't put them down!!! And I'm 26!!! I read the 1st 2 in one weekend. Everyone I have loaned them to have read them very quickly too. Have a wonderful vacation!!!

Vintage Mommy said...

I would so love to be free of anxiety about time! I have learned that worrying about how long something will take often takes longer than just doing whatever it is . . . but I still feel tyrannized by the clock.

I read the first HP book and never was inspired to go further. Twilight doesn't grab me either, but maybe on the plane this summer?

A.M.S. said...

Oooh, book recommendations. I can't speak to the Twilight series because I've had absolutely no desire to read it, but I just started The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larson and am in love with it. After hearing him interviewed by Diane Rehm I drove to the bookstore THAT morning to find it.

I also highly recommend Laurie King's Mary Russel series that starts with The Beekeeper's Apprentice about a young woman who meets a semi-retired Sherlock Holmes and becomes his friend.

Cassandra said...

I would like to apologize to Josh for my role in the musical resurgence in your CD player.

On the Kate topic, being famous for the details of your life (as opposed to work that you do like acting or being a Senator) flat-out invites people to be interested in the details of your life.

Some people think that just posting photos or stories about your kids online counts as putting them in the public eye. I say that putting your children on television and working them so hard that you violate child labor laws would seem to open you up to larger scrutiny than snapshots of eating a first birthday cake or YouTube of first steps.

S said...

I read the first two Twilight books. IMO, they were OK, but not great. Couldn't quite figure out what all the fuss was about. . . but then again I'm 38, not 12.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I've been trying to get into the first book for a few weeks now. I pick it up, but the DVR always wins out.

I clicked on the Michelle Trachtenberg article and wanted to scream when I read the first reader comment,
"When I read about this a month or so ago my first thought was, 'about damn time.' They'll both be good parents." What a bitch - does she have any idea that sometimes it can be totally out of ones control? Nope, I'm sure not!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't exactly characterize Twilight as anti-feminist. It is very much about defining yourself through the man you're with, as opposed to who you yourself are.

That said, it's fun. I don't recommend it for a deep intellectual project, but it's a good time-waster, it's engaging, and when you're on an airplane or just want to let your mind wander around in a fantasy without thinking too much, the first and third books are perfect.

The second book...well it's just not that great. The third is much better and the fourth is sort of okay.

None of them are anywhere near the level of the HP books. Meyer just doesn't have the chops that Rowling does. Not in the same league.

Lori said...

"You want me to do it!" "Hurry they're waiting" "If you knew why I do it!" "To think I admired you, for now I despise you." "You liar you Judas." "What if I just stayed here and ruined your ambition. Christ, you deserve it!" "Hurry you fool, hurry and go, save me your speeches I don't wanna know. GO!"

A duet would be easier. :-)

Kathy said...

At what point do you place yourself in the public's eye?

I would say the moment you start to blog.

Celebs expect a certain amount of attention from the media and their fans and it does, in fact, aid their careers (well, sometimes not....).

But most of us little bloggers aren't in search of fame. Yet we quickly go from discussing the topic of a blog post to one's moral failings. And for the blogger there is little recourse. Celebs can make cases of slander and libel but how do you do that if your detractors are anonymous. Those who send hate mail using proxies and anonymous remailers?

It would seem that we all could be fair game..... hey! Your breakfast cereal combo may catch on and you could be the new corporate big wig.

Bluebird said...

The Twilight series got me through the weeks after we lost the babies. No, they're not great literary works, but they're super-easy reading and kept me coming back. (Except the second in the series which kind of bored me.)

I agree with one review I read that likened their appeal to that of the Harlequin romance novels because of the alpha male character :) They're just good fun and I recommend them, esp. for beach books.

Heidi said...

I think if you are looking for a book that is going to change your life...Twilight isn't it. But...if you are looking for a quick, easy, fun, fluffy read...go for it! I loved them, but they certainly didn't change my world! (Except now I wonder if there are vampires out there like the wizards are, in hiding!)

Delenn said...

All those soundtracks--I sooo Love! I also like to bring in Avenue Q...although I guess that and Hedwig are kinda non-kid friendly...

Jendeis said...

Ooh, Avenue Q is awesome!

I find Twilight to be a "low-budget" Harry Potter. Really not as well-written, character development is lacking, but it's still enjoyable. I wouldn't call the books literature by any stretch, more of a beach read.

Sunny said...

I'm having flashbacks of college with your reference to Hedwig and the Angry Inch... boy that was weird, but awesome and fun music! :)

I had a total love/hate relationshsip with the Twilight series. It can't even hold a candle to Harry Potter, if you try to do the comparison you'll be much disappointed. And it's funny, even though Twilight is written for an older audience than H.P., while reading I was MUCH more aware of the fact that Twilight is for teens than I was that H.P. was for kiddos. It was distracting and off-putting, honestly. The story captivated me, but it's only 1/1000th of H.P. and obviously written for an immature audience.

areyoukiddingme said...

I was thinking about the celebrity thing recently too - I read someone's blog post complaining about Jennifer Garner objecting to paparazzi following her children and the blogger was critical of that. I don't know where the line is - clearly some people are desperate for attention (say, P Hilton), but for those who get attention without really seeking it, it's more of a shadowy subject. I don't believe people should have to move to Nebraska to protect their children, though.

Haven't read Twilight...starting to get curious - maybe when the books stop getting requested at the library.

Jill said...

The thing I LOVED about Twilight is that it brought back a lot of the emotions that I went through in high school. If you are a person who can connect with the younger you, than you'll love these books. (did that even makes sense?) I agree with the pps. Try reading the first 2 chapters and decide for yourself.

Ellen K. said...

I'm also curious about the Twilight books. In high school, I fooled around with a guy who later claimed he was a vampire. He also said that if I told anyone, he would kill my dog and suck its blood. I suspect his own vampire character was lacking.

battynurse said...

I've thought before that I would hate being famous. Having everything I do, eat, say documented for all the world to see. I can't imagine what that would be like.
I haven't read the twilight series. Thus far I'm really not that interested in them. I don't get all the hype.

Ally said...

I know it's bad writing and probably a bad message, but I love the Twilight books. I hated the fourth book, but loved the first three. I shouldn't admit it aloud, but I can't help it. I'm a sappy romantic at heart, and I loved the books. (I also justify reading them because I teach middle school Language Arts. I have to know what the kids are reading if I put it on my shelf...right???)

Needless to say, you won't walk away any smarter after reading the books. Perfect beach reading, if you ask me.

M said...

feeling obligated to throw in my two cents, although really, i'm just echoing what others have said. twilight won't change your life, but if will occupy tie for an excellent week or so. i love HP, and Twilight isn't on the same level in terms of writing quality but there was something intriguing in the characters that kept me reading. another thought for the fantasy teen genre: artemis fowl. i loved that series too.

calliope said...

you know the thing that bothers me about the jon & kate stuff is how much of a sport has been made over watching what is most likely the end of a marriage. Don't get me wrong- I was not a fan of Kate's tv personality, but I can't imagine being swept up in the fervor over what is going on with them. It just makes me sad whenever a celeb (from A list to D list) has to have a public whacking over something that should be so private.


I read the first Twilight book the day after my FET transfer. It was just light enough to be digested through the haze of medication, but entertaining enough to be better than day time tv.

Rose's Daughter said...

The Twilight books are great. I got hooked unexpectedly about halfway through the first and quickly went through the rest. It isn't as good as the Harry Potter series, but it is good! Just try one!!!

MrsSpock said...

I've never been a fan of the way Kate reacts to her husband on TV- but then I wonder what I would look like if I had a camera turned on me 24/7. Would I look like a lazy mother who plops in front of the TV and watches the Simpsons after work while my son plays with his toys, or who feeds her son Cheerios while she checks email, or who leaves a few minutes late every morning for work?

Missy said...

I think we do put ourselves in the public eye when we blog. We can't write about our thoughts and lives on a blog and then cry foul when someone else criticizes what we put out there. That's what I don't like about Kate's objection to her current media attention. She can't make her life public and then whine when the media keeps paying attention to her life.

But there is a line about what is made public. Many bloggers make their own lives public and that might involve stories of their kids, but that is different from making their kids' lives public.

Some celebrities (and Kate especially) make their kids part of their public persona. And these personas are cultivated for maximum financial gain. Kate certainly makes money from her show which features her kids and now has a speaking career about the same topic. Angelina Jolie is another who puts her growing family out there for public consumption and she benefits from that PR. Other celebrities don't put their kids out there like that and so I understand their complaint if the media gets too intrusive on their private life.

Celebrities and other people can have a private life, but if they put their private life out in public then they've agreed for lines to be crossed.

MAK-now said...

As a write myself, I have to say that the writing is not stellar. However, the story is fabulous and ridiculously engaging. I'm one of those people who refused to read Grisham's The Firm when it came out because EVERYONE was reading it. Same thing happened with the Twilight series. Let's just say I picked up the first one and next thing I knew, 2 weeks had passed and I was done with the 4th one. YES, it's THAT good! Enjoy!

Kristin said...

If you want a guaranteed great read, check out...
Christine Feehan's Dark series or Drake Sister series
or Anne Bishop's The Realms of the Blood series
or Lori Handeland's Night Creatures series

I have absolutely no clue whether or not Twilight is any good but I read and reread these books.

Lollipop Goldstein said...

So I'm leaning towards this happy medium with Twilight after hearing these thoughts--either checking it out from the library or buying it at the used bookstore for 50 cents. So it's a low commitment if I don't love it after one chapter, I can pass it along to another person.

Mary said...

I thought the first Twilight book was enjoyable (though not well written as others have said.) I wish I had stopped there. The rest of the books were boring and/or ridiculous in my opinion. I'm glad I borrowed them from friends. I guess it really is a love it or hate it thing with that series.

Deb said...

I borrowed the Twilight books from a family member. I won't be buying them but they were nice escape reading. I read all four throughout a very busy month and it was a good way to step away from it although a bit over the top at times. I do not understand all the hype from moms and other adults. The teen hype I understand but not the hype from some of my former classmates.... definately a beach read though.

Dora said...

Actually I preferred her non Twilight series book, The Host. Reminded me of Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis series. Although, if you haven't read those, OMG, they're brilliant!

Fertilized said...

I agree with Kathy - as son as you start blogging - It's a public forum. Everyone has access to it regardless if they know it or not. So if you are intentionally doing a reality show on your life, It's public and you are opening yourself up to trillions .. for yrs. Syndication ..... Think long and hard what that is worth to you has a person. Can you stop when it becomes too much, Yes. You make yourself scarse. Over time people forget. Lose interest. Follow a new story. Move on.

It's a tough world out there.

As for the twillight series, I got nothing. I always am late on "fad frenzies". All the buzz/hype turns me off. I don't know why. I was the same way with HP.

I do think, if it gets people to read, then it's done it's job. ANd hte author makes money.

noela said...

I saw the Twilight film for the first time just a few weeks ago with my husband, and we both went in with EXTREMELY LOW expectations, and we both ended up loving it.

Yes, the movie was not that great, but we really, really enjoyed it.

It sparked enough interest in me that I went out and read the first 12 chapters of "Midnight Sun" on SMeyer's website (Twilight told from Edward's perspective -- MUCH more interesting!!)

And I read that in one night, and the next day I went out and got Twilight, and I really enjoyed it.

No, these books are not that well written. SMeyer is NOT a trained writer, and that is very clear.

But, the story is great. Great escapism, and that is what I personally look for in a book.

I say read them, and take them for what they are, a fun, escapist, enjoyably quick read.

I read all four books in the saga in less than one week.

And they are in the middle of filming "New Moon" the 2nd book in the series in Vancouver right now, and it looks A M A Z I N G so far.

New Moon looks like it will be so much better than Twilight was on film. So, I am looking forward to seeing that this November. :)

Carrie said...

Twilight: It seems that either you adore it or you hate it.

I was very disappointed in it... I thought it would be along the lines of X-Files or Dean Koontz-type writing and it was so not. I felt like it was totally more of a tween-geared book and I probably would have really liked it when I was in junior high school.

MLO said...

Blech. I tried to listen to the Twilight books and lasted all of 20 minutes before the teenaged angst left me utterly cold. I like some YA literature but found this to be dreck.

Coffeegrl said...

I love this blog. I love that Jesus Christ Superstar, Jon & Kate and their 8, and Twilight all appear together. I love that one of your comments includes the word "dreck"! I love that people here are debating books even though this isn't a book blog!