I think one of the criteria for employment at NPR is "must have fabulously radio-worthy name." Think of Sylvia Poggioli ("SEEEL-via PoJOE-li"), Lakshmi Singh, Kai Ryssdal (OK, he's American Public Media, but his show, "Marketplace," is carried by my NPR affiliate), Singdha Prakash, and my all-time favorite, reporting from "Da-KAAAAAAR," as she says it, Ofeibia Quist-Arcton. (Then there are Neda Ulaby, Peter Overby, and Jamie Tarabay, the Killer Bees of public radio.
That's a long introduction to this month's first link: the NPR name game. The rules are simple: insert your middle initial anywhere in your first name. Your last name is the smallest foreign town you've ever visited. I, for example, am Knancy Porlock-Weir (the "K" is silent). The hamlet of Porlock Weir, in Somerset, England, doesn't have a hyphen, but it looks posh in a surname, doesn't it? Porlock Weir is adjacent to the village of Porlock, population 1,300 or so, which is famous for being the place where the poet Samuel Coleridge was rudely awakened from his opium-induced dream of Xanadu. "The person from Porlock" has come to mean "an unwanted visitor."
Now in its third season, the NBC series "30 Rock" has already generated its own lexicon of slang. There's blerg or blurg, Liz Lemon's favorite expression of dismay; "I want to go to there," another Lemon-ism; and L.U.N.C.H ("Lego Utilization for Negating Crisis Hierarchies"), from the very, very funny "Retreat to Move Forward" episode.
From a new blog discovery, Stuff Indian People Like, a condom commercial that aired in South India. Catchy refrain: "I am the condom friend ever useful to you." Mostly safe for work, except for ... ummm ... better make it NSFW.
Yearning for a communications analogue to the Slow Food Movement? For $4.70, Telegramstop lets you create your own telegram and mail it—you know, on paper and stuff?—just like back in the day. (Hat tip: Mxrk.)
Okay, you prefer the Intertubes. You've been using URL shorteners like twurl and bit.ly to avoid breaking links and to squeeze into your 140-character Twitter limit. But you just read an alarming and apparently well-informed article about the perils of link shortening (summary: "A new and potentially unreliable middleman now sits between the link and its destination"). SoCuteURL may not solve the problem, but it sure is an adorable alternative. I mean, how cute is "looloopoo," which is what one of my recent posts shortens to?
Finally, allow me to introduce you to Charlie Haas, beliked American writer (his description). Charlie and I met blerggy years ago at New West magazine, where I slung punctuation and he was the brilliant young writer who wrote about Hello Kitty, the Sex Pistols, an Elvis fan convention in Las Vegas, and other cultural phenomena. New West briefly became California, then folded; Charlie became a screenwriter. (Remember Gremlins 2? That was Charlie. Also Over the Edge and Matinee.) Now Charlie has written his first novel, The Enthusiast, which Harper Collins is publishing on May 26. I read an advance copy, and damn-it's-good.* Funny? Oh yes. Also brilliant. (Sample line: "When your only tool is your ass, every problem looks like a couch.") The first-person narrator is Henry Bay, who works at a succession of "enthusiast" magazines with titles like Kite Buggy, Spelunk, and Cozy: A Magazine of Tea, never quite finding his own enthusiasm until ... Well, that'll have to wait. I'll publish a review in a month or so. In the meantime, you can follow Charlie on Twitter, where he is funny (and brilliant!). You can also read about him, in his own words, on the Harper Collins site, where he's also posting short essays, many of them in his ought-to-be-trademarked style, a cross between S.J. Perelman, Woody Allen, and The Onion. Harper Collins is making it unaccountably hard to find all the essays, so I've done the heavy lifting:
- "It's Not Fitness, It's Life," inspired by the slogan of the Equinox gym. (Sample: "I haven’t pressed anything all week, so I find an empty bench and start pressing my luck.")
- A reminiscence about working for Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing (a real publication, long and lamentably defunct).
- A Hollywood mini-memoir.
- A riff on what music writers listen to, and why.
- A riff on the Visa Black Card, "made with carbon," just like certain life forms.
There's more, and more to come; keep an eye on Charlie's Twitter stream for updates. You won't be sorry. (And order a copy or three of The Enthusiast!)
* I'm not the only Enthusiast enthusiast. Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review.