Today, you had me at hello (Tom)

The Today Show had a brief shining moment of real news and real interviewing this morning. Tom Brokaw stepped in to interview George Tenet about his new book and the accusations therein.

Matt was somewhere else in the world, and I suppose neither Meredith nor Ann nor Al could be trusted to give Tenet an interview worth his or our time. Brokaw was great, of course, but the sad thing is that we were actually stunned to have to think hard and process hard news on our usually easy-to-digest diet of watered down, mushy-and-sugary-as-Quaker-Instant-Oatmeal morning news.

Thank you, Tom Brokaw. You had us at hello.

Today moms

If I see another segment on the Today Show about moms — today was “Alpha Moms” — I’m going in to get my tubes tied. (I guess I’d better schedule that for Monday, because Today runs a segment every single day without fail.) This woman actually talked about the synergy of Alpha and Mom.

That’s it. I just can’t take it. Synergy? I’m feeling a sudden synergy. It’s the same synergy I sense when I see kids throwing french fries in restaurants (best to just go somewhere classier) or hear babies screaming at the grocery store. It’s a synergy between my brain and my ovaries, with the former shutting down the latter. But there’s another synergy — finger to remote control, changing the channel to get far, far away from the Today Show.

Today, an extension of American Idol

“Is the Today Show just an extension of American Idol?” Jeremy just asked me.

Well, that seems to be the case. They run a segment on the reality show every day. It gets more time than the war, the partial-birth abortion ban, Gonzalez gate, the Wolfowitz controversy — I could go on for a long time here. Why is Sanjaya such a pop phenom? Because shows like Today drone on and on about him. This would all be fine with me if Today didn’t peg itself as a news show. It’s entertainment, with occasional weather reports and news briefs thrown in for good measure.

Throwing Twinkies Off a Building

My friend at Egads! and I decided to write blogs with the same title tonight and see what happens. This could be an exercise in synonyms for “splat.” Here’s mine:

My college boyfriend lived on the seventh and top floor of our dorm, at the very end of the hall. The window at the end of the hall was easy to open, and there was no screen.
Seven stories below was the dirty blacktop behind our dining hall and its dumpsters. And sometimes, bananas from the dining hall would splatter with the force of seven stories of acceleration on that blacktop beneath the boys’ window.

(For the record, I believe a cantaloupe was flung out the window once, by whom I don’t recall, but much to everyone’s dismay, it was not promptly hosed away by the poor staff of our residence hall. It sat shattered and rotting for days. But at least no one was injured.)

Why did they do it? Part curiosity, part entertainment. It’s true that cats usually carry the curiosity capital in our lexicon, but I suppose college students and humans in general cash in at a close second to our feline friends.

There are, of course, more sophisticated versions of human curiosity that don’t involve hoisting produce out a window to see what happens. Meditation, for example: we sit on cushions, look at our minds and see what happens. Sometimes it’s just as thrilling as the thwack of a melon hitting the pavement from high above. But usually, it’s more like stepping on an obliterated three-day-old banana peel.

That’s where the entertainment factor comes in. After an all-day zazen back in my Zen days, I got so bored with myself I couldn’t take it anymore. I was just so sick of being in my head. I am so boring, oy! As I sat frozen on that cushion waiting for the bell, I would have given anything to drop something off the top of a tall building and watch it go splat with that satisfying twack and giggle to myself in the mindless joy of simple entertainment.

Fortunately, my curiosity about the human mind was renewed later, and I returned to the cushion to see what would happen. But sometimes it’s too much. Sometimes humans need a break to see something ridiculous, like what a curious cat will do with a paper bag for hours on end, or what would happen if you threw a Twinkie off a building.

For those not curious enough to watch the video, I’ll tell you — it’s not much. But it brought the videographers child-like, temporary joy.

Today — stealing stories

“Is it harder to be a mom today than it was 20 years ago?”

Today Show, you asked the same question just a few weeks ago after a study came out about how much time moms spend with their children nowadays.

I won’t be watching that segment. But I might have watched the one on affordable Europe — if the NY Times travel section hadn’t run it this weekend.

If you’re not stealing stories from the NYT, Today, you’re taking a page from Swingers — doubling down.


For those of you — you know who you are — who are tired of White House spin, here’s the Chinese version. Do you ever wonder how many people are fooled by spin? Or who falls for it, in our country or others?

(Right now, I’m also wondering if by linking to a story about Tibet on Xinhua will automatically tag me as a troublemaker, and whether this means I’ll end up in prison should I ever travel to China or Tibet.)

Maybe everyone knows it’s spin, and it’s acknowledged as spin and ignored, like an ad for night creme. But if that’s true, why do they keep spinning?

Gonzo nothing II: the secret life of twigs

If you read my last post, you know I was on a mission to do nothing last week and just stare at a twig.

Instead of staring at twigs all weekend, I ran over them. Quickly.

Until Sunday, when I arrived first at the coffee shop in Lyons Jeremy and I had agreed to meet at mid-ride. I ordered drinks for both of us and sat and stared out into the cliffs around Lyons and attempted to rub the helmet marks off my forehead.

So I didn’t stare at a twig, per se, but I got Susan’s point about staring at twigs. I realized that in my week of nothing, I didn’t do much twig-staring.

Instead of looking at twigs right now, I should be looking for a job. That’s the problem with this whole business of looking at twigs. There’s no time for looking at twigs, because looking at a twig is not productive.

When I told my mom I was having a week of nothing, she said:

“Okay, but don’t get too used to it.”

Mom travels at least one million miles per minute, and she usually does so on her cell phone. I suspect the only way to get her to stare at a twig is to stick it in her eye. Even this would only command her attention momentarily, though. She simply does not have time to stare at a twig, even if it is the only thing in her field of vision.
When I told my dad about the week of nothing, his reply was:

“Well, yeah, I can see where you’d need to do that.”

Dad could stare at twigs. He’s a night owl, and it’s possible that this is what he does in the middle of the night.

I fall somewhere between the two extremes. Maybe this is good — a middle way.

Or maybe I’m simply waffling, at odds with both. I can’t say my week of nothing was a success, because I didn’t achieve true “nothing” until the end of the week. However, maybe it made me realize the dualistic view involved in trying to do nothing versus something. Gonzo nothing indeed.

Next: how to do nothing and something at the same time.

Gonzo nothing: how to look at a twig

I’m doing nothing for a while.

Okay, so I’m sitting here writing, so that’s something. But that big to-do list in my head? It’s staying there, un-acted upon for the rest of the week.

That’s right, nothing. My deaconess pal called me tonight, and when I told her I’m doing nothing this week, she said:

“I envy your lifestyle.”

But it’s actually tough. We’re all so busy, and we dream of doing nothing, but when we get the chance, what do we do? We do all the things that are next on the list. I finished my master’s degree last week and am unemployed. I’ll give you three guesses as to what’s next on my list. You can imagine, it looms large.

But the degree was hell. So I bumped “nothing” up to the top of the list. It seemed like the sane thing to do.

This nothing business was inspired by a friend of the family (who has been so for such a long time that she’s now part of the family). Susan was a teacher, and after stressing over renumbering my entire MA book late one night in Columbia, she told me about watching twigs.

When school ended in the summer, she and her husband would go to the library with a grocery bag and fill it with trash, she said. They would go home and do nothing but read the trashy books for three weeks. The only thing that occasionally interrupted the reading of trash was:

“Hey, you might want to read this one when you’re done.”

Or, looking at a twig. Do you ever just look at a twig, Jenn? she asked. Nope, not lately. Sometimes I just look at the sky, but even then, I’m on a walk or hike or riding my bike, so I have to look at where I’m going every so often so I don’t crash.

I’ve been so busy looking where I’m going next that I rarely stop to look where I am. Perhaps in front of a twig. I wouldn’t even know. I’m sure I’ve run over plenty of innocent, annonymous twigs with my bicycle.
So this week, with my MA completed, it’s time to do nothing. It’s been a little chilly for looking at twigs, but the week isn’t over yet, and I’m sure I can find something to look at indoors. Like trash on tv — check. Or unread books (good ones, no trash) — check again. Or a dust bunny. But the real trick is to see the twig (or bunny) and not the long, looming to-do list in my head whilst blankly staring at the twig.

Fortunately, I don’t like to dust.

Today’s Outrage — no news is good news?

It’s a good thing we get a newspaper in the morning (two, actually) and read the news online (more RSS feeds than I can count), because if I had to rely on the Today Show for my morning news, this is what I would think is going on in the world:

  • J-Lo is coaching the final eight on American Idol
  • Larry Birkhead is the father of Anna Nicole’s baby
  • Espresso will keep you up at night

This is all I would know because I missed the first 30 minutes of the Today Show. This is your only chance to get the news on this show, folks. Miss those first half hour and all you’ve got is the two-minute briefs and celebrity and health news, which is usually common sense stuff like espresso will keep you up at night.

Oh, did you know chocolate contains caffine and can keep you up, too?

The Outrage is back

After a hiatus for completing my MA, the Today Show Outrage is back.

Today loves reality television, and Monday’s show was a love fest. First, Ann interviewed the stars of “Little People, Big World.” Next was a family who was on “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids.” It’s not even 8:30, so there could be more reality TV ahead. But Today should have a one-show minimum when there’s so much going on in the world.