Monday, February 24, 2020

Using Gen Z and Millennials Texting Acronyms in Formal Writing


While perusing the March 2020 issue of Cosmopolitan, I was surprised to notice that the issue was peppered with acronyms that are often used by generation z and millennials. I was forced to Google a number of acronyms, because I couldn't even determine the meaning of the acronyms from the context of the pieces. For example:

Carina Hsieh, the sex and relationship editor, shared: "I'm deep in writing a news story about the trend...perineum sunning. TD;DR: Tanning your b-hole has not health bennies (sorry!)."

TD;DR = too long; didn't read

Taylor Andrews wrote in her piece about where young women keep their debit cards: "[If you keep your debit card in your phone case] [y]ou were the first to use a vibrator in high school, so ofc you gave sexing advice to anyone who listened ... and also explained calc like a pro."

OFC = of course 

And in Hsieh's article about how to determine if you've angered a BFF, option A is: "Just walk away RTFN" 

RTFN: = right the f*ck now

I was familiar with a few of the acronyms, but I was shocked by the number of times I had to refer to Google. And TBH, à la Nabokov, I pepper my writing with (intermediate) French, but to stay relevant, should I pepper my writing with gen z acronyms too?

On a side not, some, like former model Nicole Weider, allege that Cosmopolitan became the largest selling magazine in the world by marketing to teens via using popular acronyms used by gen z and millennials. And by profiling teens or celebrities who are popular with teens while using sexually explicit language. 

For example, the March 2020 issue of Cosmopolitan profiles Lucy Hale. Hale is most famous for playing Aria Montgomery on Pretty Little Liars where she had an extended affair with her high school English teacher. And the text on the cover next to Hale reads: SO THIS SIGN IS the best at sex (WHEN THEY'RE NOT CRYING, THAT IS)

Friday, February 14, 2020

Why We Left New [Jersey] York Red Bulls


Every Major League Soccer (MLS) season, we've wonder why so many New Yorkers appear to snub the New York Red Bulls (NYRB) for the New York City Football Club (NYCFC). 

Since NYCFC arrived in The Bronx in 2013, we've been loyal fans of both teams. But it appears that we've been an anomaly, because most New Yorkers seem to consider the New Jersey based NYBR, a New Jersey team.

However, as of today, we've decided to abandon NYRB for the following reasons:
  1. NYRB transferred Kemar Lawrence, who was, arguably, the best defender in MLS
  2. NYRB traded Bradley Wright Phillips - unarguable one the best strikers in MLS history 
  3. And YouTube TV doesn't carry MSG


Thursday, January 30, 2020

Reality TV Star + Influencer Rarely Equals Major Book Sales

Next Level Basic
by Stassi Schroeder of Bravo's Vanderpump Rules

As a writer, it's annoying to see huge advertisements in the Union Square Barnes & Noble window for books "written" by reality TV stars and social media influencers, because I strongly suspect that those "stars" and influencers wouldn't be published if they didn't (appear) to have large amounts of fans. 

But Julie McCarron's shared in her article "What’s an Influencer Worth to Books?" on Publishers Weekly that being a realty star or influencer doesn't always equal a large number of book sales - especially when some of the "influencers" have fake followers. 


A mini-scandal lit up Twitter last month when the Cut featured a tell-all essay by 27-year-old writer Natalie Beach. In the piece, Beach exposes her seven-year relationship with her friend Caroline Calloway, who scored an agent and a reputed $375,000 book deal for her memoir. Beach, who ghostwrote the book, says her former bestie bought Instagram followers after being told by literary professionals that “no one would buy a memoir from a girl with no claim to fame and no fan base.”

Platform has always been key when putting together a nonfiction book proposal. But back in the not-so-very-distant past—a mere dozen years ago!—publishers were throwing six figures and two-book deals at anyone who had a half-decent story and a clip in the local newspaper. These days, a huge following on social media, particularly Instagram, is a must for a book deal.

The moment agents or editors hear an author has a small following or no following, it’s over. Yes, there are exceptions. Still, worthy authors are overlooked every day—in favor of a young woman with a photo of macarons that went viral? Now her friend the ghostwriter has CAA shopping rights to her story? Which era is crazier?

The Kardashian/Jenner sisters have 500 million followers. So how come fewer than 500,000 viewers (18–49) tuned in to the latest episode of their show? Kim Kardashian’s book of selfies sold fewer than 40,000 copies, according to BookScan—yet she remains a powerful influencer. When are publishers going to concede that number of followers (fake or not) is only one key to book sales?

Naturally, some influencers produce books that are megabestsellers (usually with a lot of help). That is because they deserve a wide audience for whatever message they are sending. Ariana Grande, who has one of the biggest social media followings in the world, should get a huge deal... because she’s an incredible singer with a fantastic story to tell—not because of her follower count!

Recently, at a trendy store in Los Angeles, I attended a well-publicized book signing by the latest Bachelorette contestant (1.2 million followers). She breezed in late and sold 10 books. So how about it, agents and editors? I know a lot of fascinating people with stories to share—well-written ones, too. They just don’t have a lot of Instagram followers. Want to see?


Monday, December 30, 2019

How To Be A Student of Aesthetics


Walter Pater writes in the preface to The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry that the aim of the true student of aesthetics is to define beauty. 

And that to see the object (e.g., poetry, literature, pictures, etc.) as it really is is the aim of all true criticism. And one does this by asking the following questions:

"What is this [object of art] to me?"
"What effect does it really produce on me?"
"Does it give me pleasure?" and if so, what sort or degree of pleasure?"
"How is my nature modified by its presence, and under its influence?"

Consequently, the abstract definition of beauty will be of no interest to the student of aesthetics.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Instagram Face: Full Lips & Big Buttocks ARE Attractive


Jia Tolentino relates in her New Yorker piece "THE AGE OF INSTAGRAM FACE: How social media, FaceTune, and plastic surgery created a single, cyborgian look" that in the last decade there has been a: 

[...] gradual emergence, among professionally beautiful women, of a single, cyborgian face. It’s a young face, of course, with poreless skin and plump, high cheekbones. It has catlike eyes and long, cartoonish lashes; it has a small, neat nose and full, lush lips. 

A class of celebrity plastic surgeons has emerged on Instagram, posting time-lapse videos of injection procedures and before-and-after photos, which receive hundreds of thousands of views and likes. 

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Americans received more than seven million neurotoxin injections in 2018, and more than two and a half million filler injections. That year, Americans spent $16.5 billion on cosmetic surgery; ninety-two per cent of these procedures were performed on women. 

Thanks to injectables, cosmetic procedures are no longer just for people who want huge changes, or who are deep in battle with the aging process—they’re for millennials, or even, in rarefied cases, members of Gen Z. Kylie Jenner, who was born in 1997, spoke on her reality-TV show “Life of Kylie” about wanting to get lip fillers after a boy commented on her small lips when she was fifteen.

1900 William H. West Minstrel Show Poster

But what is additionally (extremely) interesting about these developments is that not too long ago, having "
lush lips" was proclaimed to be unattractive and was used to racially stereotype African Americans. But thanks to the Kardashians, non-whites are free to openly admit that full lips and buttocks are actually attractive.


Kylie Jenner Lip Fillers | Before and After

Coincidentally, this weekend's edition of the metro (New York City edition) included an article on the spike in lip injections around the holidays.


Friday, November 22, 2019

Kjaerholm's PK80 Leather Benches at the MoMA


Whenever we go to the MoMA, in addition to the abstract art, we're drawn to the benches. Not only to take a rest upon, but, for years, we've been trying to determine if the benches are upholstered in leather. And it turns out that they are! 

Here's what is posted on Modern Design Interior about the leather benches:

Poul Kjaerholm PK80 Bench: a modernist masterpiece™ by Stardust.com™. The distinctive minimalist PK80 Bench was designed by Poul Kjaerholm (Danish spelling is Poul Kjærholm) in 1957 and is produced by Fritz Hansen in Denmark. In typically Scandinavian fashion, Poul Kjaerholm opted for steel as his primary furniture construction material but combined it with wood and leather to give it an understated luxurious elegance. 

Poul Kjaerholm's PK80 is a sculpture by itself, but with an understated, subtle quality that makes it ideally suited for accompanying art. PK80 was specified by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York where it is used as a museum bench. Claude Monet's Water Lilies (1914-26) and Jackson Pollock's One: Number 31 (1951), look absolutely stunning when observed from the equally iconic PK80 bench.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Does Good Writing Equal Poor Speaking?

Caroline Wright's speaking writing

Vladimir Nabokov shared in the foreword to Strong Opinions: "I think like a genius, I write like a distinguished author, and I speak like a child." 

Thus, Nabokov considered himself a good writer but a poor speaker. So much so, that his lectures and interviews were pre-written. Nabokov shared:

"Throughout my academic ascent in America from lean lecturer to Full Professor, I have never delivered to my audience one scrap of information not prepared in typescript beforehand and not held under my eyes on the bright-lit lectern."

"The interviewer's questions have to be sent to me in writing, answered by me in writing, and reproduced verbatim. Such are the three absolute conditions."

We suspect that Nabokov is not an anomaly in this regard. What about you? As your writing improved, did you seen a decline in your speaking ability? 

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Public Art: George Condo's "Constellation of Voices" & Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales

 George Condo's  "Constellation of Voices" @ Lincoln Center Plaza

Before daylight savings time kicks in this weekend, we used the daylight to view some public art. 

Our first stop was Lincoln Center Plaza to see George Condo's  "Constellation of Voices", which is exhibited on the terrace of the Metropolitan Opera's facade. If you're intrigued by the sculpture's color, it has a 24-karat-gold-leaf surface.

Untitled Estructura, 1966/2018

Then we hopped back on the Downtown A to Chambers to see the Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales exhibit in the City Hall Park. The exhibit is Herrera's, who is 104-years-old, first large scale exhibition of her outdoor aluminum sculptures.

Amarillo Tres, 1971/2018
Estructura Verde, 1966/2018
Angulo Rojo, 2017
Carmen Herrera: Estructuras Monumentales  ends November 8th.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Red Increases Attractiveness, But Can It Increase Book Sales




Recent research showed that individuals are perceived as more attractive when presented with the color red.

Elliot and Niesta (2008) found that men consistently rated women as higher in attractiveness when a border of red framed their photographs or when they were presented with a red shirt compared to other colors. This red effect was also found for women perceiving men (Elliot et al., 2010; Roberts, Owen, & Havlicek, 2010). 

Red color, for example, represents a sexual signal that might have evolved from our biological heritage. This reasoning is supported by research showing that nonhuman female primates exhibit red coloration for example as indicator of fertility (Elliot & Niesta, 2008). [...] Thus, it is most likely that the meaning of the color red also has a biological background [...] Nonetheless, societal learning seems to have turned the originally pure sexual meaning of red color into a more romantic association: red equals love. 

Bearing in mind that people are likely to associate (i.e., learn to associate) wearing red with being attractive, we now propose that the color red can heighten individuals’ self-attractiveness. 

Judging oneself as more attractive, when the desire for a sexual intimacy is increased (through the color red), seems to be an efficient strategy to attract potential partners.

In sum, given that the meaning of red has such genuine biological roots and is bolstered through societal learning, we argue that wearing red affects individuals’ self-attractiveness judgments, because the color shapes their look and they are inclined to base inferences on their appearance (Bem, 1967). Accordingly, the color red should be influential when inferring one’s sexual receptivity and self-status. We assume that those two variables mediate the effect of color on self-attractiveness, as was found regarding the perception of others (Elliot & Maier, 2012; 2014). 

Thus, based on the results of this study, red increases one's self-attractiveness and attractiveness, but can a red book cover increase sales? Interestingly, red enhances men’s attraction to young, but not menopausal women. And we know a red bearded New York based author who gets complemented consistently on his barbe rouge.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Introvert = [Good] Writer?


When Boris Kachka interviewed Bari Weiss at the Lambs Club during the launch party for her first book, he told her that, "[...] she seemed unusually extroverted for a writer [...]", Weiss agreed and shared that she would love to be an agent, because she loves "[...] making matches with people." Whereas an introvert generally wants to avoid people.

Jenn Granneman related on the blog Introvert, Dear that John Green, The Fault in Our Stars author, opined: “Writing is something you do alone. It’s a profession for introverts who want to tell you a story but don’t want to make eye contact while doing it.”

Although, Granneman admits that not all writers are introverts (e.g., Hemingway), she lists three reasons why introverts make great writers:

1. Good writing is good thinking. And who thinks more than introverts?
2. We’re comfortable with solitude.
3. We’re keen observers of people, places, and details.