Sunday, March 27, 2011

Another One Bites The Dust: After 15 Years, NYT Magazine Quietly Kills "Lives" Back-Page Feature.

After 15 years, the NYT Magazine has quietly killed yet another of its most enduring and popular features -- this time, the back-page "Lives" column.

For the last two weeks -- the second and third issues since the magazine re-launched under new editor Hugo Lindgren -- the backpage feature has been named "Read More." Last week's feature was a 395-word profile of the director of the 1971 movie, "Pink Narcissus," and this week chronicles (in 487 words) the life story of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.

The NYT Magazine -- under the leadership of then-editorial director Adam Moss, now editor of New York Magazine -- launched the "Lives" column on January 28, 1996, with an essay by writer Louise Rafkin about her laundry.

There followed more than 500 columns written by the famous (Shana Alexander and Steve Martin contributed in the first year), unknown, and even anonymous -- almost always recounting a small, well-told personal tale. The column grew out of the NYT Magazine's annual "Lives Well Lived" issue that offered short reminiscences of that year's notable deaths.

Lindgren -- who served under Moss at both the NYT Magazine and New York -- has been busy dismantling much of Moss's architecture in recent weeks.

Among Lindgren's moves: he replaced both Randy Cohen (The Ethicist) and Deborah Solomon ("Questions For..."), both popular columnists, and killed Virginia Heffernan's "Medium" column. Perhaps his most controversial decision to date was ending the "On Language" column after 32 years -- most of them written by legendary language expert William Safire.

Lindgren has hired a new Ethicist and "Questions For..." columnist, and launched several new features, among them a regular column by his boss, executive editor Bill Keller, and columns with labels like "You Are Here," "Look," "Riff" and "What They Were Thinking."

The loss of "Lives" will have far-reaching effects among writers, especially those who saw the column as a means to break into the NYT Magazine. In it early years, the column featured the NYT debuts of such future bestselling authors as Elizabeth Gilbert (writing about her childhood home), Mary Roach (on her elderly father) and novelist Colum McCann (on a visit to a Russian cemetery).

In the first issue of Lindgren's re-design, the "Lives" column adapted a piece first published online at Reddit -- liberally editing the language in ways that diminished the writer's original voice, as we noted at the time.

That, as it turned out, would be the column's farewell entry.

UPDATE: Does "Lives" still live? We emailed Lindgren before posting our item and he failed to respond. But a NYTPicker reader wrote to a NYT Magazine editor named John Glassie, and got this reply.

The email suggests that instead of killing "Lives," Lindgren has simply demoted it to occasional status, depending on the supply of 400-word profiles in the bank. Smooth move, Hugo!

HuffPo's Peter S. Goodman: "I Don't Get Why" NYT's Bill Keller Misrepresented Comments In Sunday Magazine Column.

In an email reponse to questions from The NYTPicker, former NYT economics writer Peter S. Goodman has questioned NYT executive editor Bill Keller's motives in mangling a quote from a recent column in the Huffington Post.

In today's NYT Magazine, Keller writes about the need for accuracy in news coverage -- but in doing so the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist innacurately quoted from a February 10 HuffPo column by Goodman.

Halfway through the column, Keller defends the NYT newsroom staff against an attack on the paper's approach to impartiality, by an unidentified critic:

My little realm, the newsroom, consists of about 1,100 people. Every one of them has opinions about a lot of things. But just as doctors and lawyers, teachers and military officers, judges and the police are expected to set aside their own politics in the performance of their duties, so are our employees. This does not mean — as one writer recently scoffed — that we “poll people at both extremes of any issue, then paint a line down the middle and point to it as reality.”

But in his haste to make a point, Keller managed to misinterpret the meaning of the quote from Goodman, who left the paper in September to join HuffPo as its business and technology editor.

Goodman's point wasn't presented either as a criticism of the NYT, or in the form of a scoff. In fact, he represents the notion quoted by Keller as a "false idea" of journalism, and nowhere does he mention the NYT. Here is the full context of Goodman's comment:

In the sort of journalism I am interested in practicing here, I want my reporters to reject the false idea that you simply poll people at both extremes of any issue, then paint a line down the middle and point to it as reality.

We emailed Goodman last night for his reaction to Keller's misrepresentation of his point. Here is the full text of his reply:

I greatly respect Bill and I still love the Times, and I'm not sure why he construed my sentence as a "scoff." I don't get why he apparently took it as being about the Times, when I was speaking much more generally about a troubling default mode in contemporary journalism. I was simply saying that I think it's crucial that journalists report impartially, insofar as we start our inquiry without being beholden to any particular interest, but equally that we then write it as we see it, without fretting over how readers will see us. I was in particular criticizing the tendency in many publications to insert mentions of bogus contentions as a means of inoculating themselves against claims that they are staking out a clear position. That doesn't help readers decide anything for themselves. It's phony centrism masquerading as impartiality. At the HuffPost, I don't allow my reporters to start out trying to buttress an ideological position, but if the reporting winds up going there, I see no value in muddying it up with dubious pseudo-facts aimed at creating a false sense of balance.

What makes Keller's misrepresentation notable is his ongoing battle with Arianna Huffington that began with his last NYT Magazine column. In that piece, Keller took strong issue with aggregation as a media business model, and his broadside against Huffington led to a brief skirmish between the two media titans.

Curiously, Keller appeared to be ignoring his own commentary about journalism and impartiality in his misquotation of Goodman's column in the Huffington Post.

"Once you proclaim an opinion," Keller wrote in today's column, "you may feel an urge to defend it, and that creates a temptation to overlook inconvenient facts when you should be searching them out."

Perhaps that explains why Keller overlooked the "inconvenient facts" of what Goodman actually wrote before making his point today.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Did NYT's Charles Isherwood Actually Sing Along At The End of "Where's Charley"? By Jove, We Think He Did.

In the last paragraph of theater critic Charles Isherwood's gushing review of "Where's Charley?" this morning came this confession:

And in the key role of Charley, Mr. McClure scampers to and fro with tireless energy, flouncing in and out of his skirts with comic verve, employing a funny, pinched falsetto when Charley is impersonating his aunt. The most famous song in Loesser’s score — really the only famous one — is “Once in Love With Amy,” credited with saving the musical’s fortunes during an uneasy out-of-town tryout, when Bolger invited the audience to sing along.

As performed (and led) by Mr. McClure, a nimble dancer and terrific singer, it naturally brings the show to a genial, mildly intoxicating climax. Normally I find the invitation to sing along about as appealing as a date with the dental surgeon. On this rare occasion, I found it almost impossible to resist.

This doesn't quite top Frank Rich's now-legendary 1987 leap onto the stage of "Starlight Express" in roller skates, but we're still impressed.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jay Maeder Gets Editors' Note For Self-Plagiarism In City Room Blog; Columnist Tom Friedman Still At Large.

In this morning's corrections column, former New York Daily News reporter Jay Maeder got his wrist publicly slapped for committing a sin practiced by Thomas L. Friedman, its own Pulitzer prize-winning columnist: he copied from himself.

The difference, in this case, appears to be that Maeder lifted his lines from his former employer's paper, the Daily News -- while Friedman took his words from the NYT itself.

Curiously, there's a contradiction between the Editor's Note as published in the paper this morning, and the one published online. The online note cites three instances of self-plagiarism -- one in each of the City Room blog posts written by Maeder -- while the print edition refers only to two.

From the print edition:

A City Room article on Monday about renewed criticism of the “Rough Boy” statue at Queens Borough Hall included descriptions of the historical background very similar to material the same author had published in The Daily News in 2000. And a Feb. 18 City Room article by that writer, about the naming of the George Washington Bridge, also included passages similar to an account he wrote for The Daily News in 2000. Had Times editors known of the earlier articles, those passages would not have been used.

From the Edtor's Note on Maeder's February 23 City Room post -- one of three historical reflections by Maeder called the "Way Back Machine" -- on the arrival of air mail:

This post includes descriptions of the historical background similar to material the same author published in The Daily News in 1998. Had editors known of the earlier article, those passages would not have been used. Two other posts by this author also included descriptions similar to material he had previously written for The Daily News.

How many times did Maeder copy himself, guys -- two or three? Get your stories straight and report back to us in tomorrow's corrections column.

Although it's not quite the same as stealing someone else's words, the practice of self-plagiarism is considered unethical by most journalism professionals.

That's why we called attention to it way back in September of 2009, when Tom Friedman lifted an entire paragraph from a three-month-old op-ed column and put it in a new one -- a clear cut-and-paste job by one of the NYT's biggest stars.

Here's what Friedman wrote in "Can I Clean Your Clock?" published on July 4, 2009:

Well, there is one thing we know about necessity: it is the mother of invention....And when China starts to do that in a big way — when it starts to develop solar, wind, batteries, nuclear and energy efficiency technologies on its low-cost platform — watch out. You won’t just be buying your toys from China. You’ll be buying your energy future from China.

Here's essentially the same paragraph in Friedman's "The New Sputnik," published less than three months later:

What do we know about necessity? It is the mother of invention. And when China decides it has to go green out of necessity, watch out. You will not just be buying your toys from China. You will buy your next electric car, solar panels, batteries and energy-efficiency software from China.

This isn't the only instance of Friedman lifting material from other columns to fill out new ones. In December of 2008, we noted Friedman's frequent use of the Flintsones as an ongoing metaphor to apply to all situations -- most often juxtaposing them to the Jetsons, for added emphasis.

We don't excuse Maeder's apparent borrowing of language from his past work in the Daily News, and we suppose there's an added problem in using words that appeared in another newspaper.

But it doesn't seem fair to call Maeder out on his mistake, while the NYT allows Friedman's repetition of ideas and phrases to appear without reprimand. The NYT needs a policy on self-plagiarism that applies equally to all its contributors, without fear or favor.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

On Language: Hugo Lindgren's New NYT Magazine Rewrites "Lives" Column, Cuts Use Of "Fuck," "Shit" And "Dude."

On the back page of Hugo Lindgren's newly-remodeled NYT Magazine -- you know, the one that unceremoniously axed the "On Language" column after 32 years -- there's a sweet little essay in the "Lives" column from a dude named Justin Horner.

We say "dude" because Horner likes to say "dude." He said "dude" several times in his original version of the essay -- along with several other turns of phrase that made his writing distinct and wonderful and fresh.

That was before Lindgren's pencil-pushers had their way with it.

It's still a charming little yarn about a family of Mexican immigrants who stopped along the side of an Oregon road to help a man change a tire. Nothing much special about it, except the raw truth of the moment conveyed by Horner -- who isn't even a writer. He's a graphic designer. He just happens to have a terrific natural voice.

The NYT notes that the essay was "adapted from a message board posting on" So we went poking around for the original. It wasn't hard to find, because the Reddit community was abuzz with comments about the NYT's editorial process.

We're glad the NYT published the piece; it's sweet and likely to bring a tear to readers' eyes -- and not the first, probably, for regular readers who miss the multitude of staples (Randy Cohen's Ethicist, Deborah Solomon's Q-and-A, Virginia Heffernan's Medium column, Pete Wells' Cooking with Dexter) now gone to make way for columns called "Riff," "Look" and "You Are Here."

We'll leave those new features alone for the time being and let them evolve. A magazine is a living organism that needs time to breathe.

But in going through the two Justin Horner pieces carefully -- his has been referred to as "Today You, Tomorrow Me" on the web, while the NYT's version has been less effectively titled "The Tire Iron and the Tamale" -- we found ourselves disillusioned by the unnamed editor's excessive blue pencil.

The piece isn't ruined; far from it. But it sure ain't better, dude.

Here are some examples.

For instance, here's the graceful, evocative lede to the original piece that the NYT editor lopped off:

Just about every time I see someone I stop. I kind of got out of the habit in the last couple of years, moved to a big city and all that, my girlfriend wasn't too stoked on the practice. Then some shit happened to me that changed me and I am back to offering rides habitually. If you would indulge me, it is [a] long story and has almost nothing to do with hitch hiking other than happening on a road.

Okay, maybe it's not exactly on point. But we liked the way he moseyed into the topic, which he put on a Reddit thread on hitchhiking. Even without that context, there's a sort-of poetry to that line.

Then Horner wrote this:

Anyway, each of these times this shit happened I was DISGUSTED with how people would not bother to help me. I spent hours on the side of the freeway waiting, watching roadside assistance vehicles blow past me, for AAA to show. The 4 gas stations I asked for a gas can at told me that they couldn't loan them out "for my safety" but I could buy a really shitty 1-gallon one with no cap for $15. It was enough, each time, to make you say shit like "this country is going to hell in a handbasket."

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke a lick of the language. But one of those dudes had a profound affect on me.

Which the NYT changed to this:

Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out “for safety reasons,” but that I could buy a really crappy one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like “this country is going to hell in a handbasket,” which I actually said.

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English.

Let's see: the editor changed "shit" to "things," "blow" to "cruise," changed the quotes -- presumably after the "fact checkers" couldn't confirm the conversations Horner had with gas-station attendants -- noted that Horner had "actually said" the line that "this country is going to hell in a handbasket," and cut the first of the piece's many reference to "dudes."

Then this became that.

This, in Horner's original prose:

I start taking the wheel off and, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones and I wasn't careful and I snapped the head I needed clean off. Fuck.

That, in NYT-speak:

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off. Damn.

Commas, small word changes, the deletion of an obscenity...small changes, true, but nonetheless altering the author's true voice and rhythms.

The rest of the edits go pretty much along those lines -- a shit here, a fuck there -- until we get to the ending. Here's where the NYT editor took one too many liberties with the language of the writer.


Dude just smiles, shakes his head and, with what looked like great concentration, tried his hardest to speak to me in English: "Today you.... tomorrow me."

Rolled up his window, drove away, his daughter waving to me in the rear view. I sat in my car eating the best fucking tamale of all time and I just cried. Like a little girl. It has been a rough year and nothing has broke my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn't deal.

In the 5 months since I have changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and, once, went 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won't accept money. Every time I tell them the same thing when we are through:

"Today you.... tomorrow me."


The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: “Today you, tomorrow me.”

Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it.

In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank.

No argument this time. Horner's ending was better.

We're not against editing. But we're sorry to see the NYT Magazine simultaneously drop its classic column about language, and add elements so editor-driven that Lindgren felt it necessary to add ludicrous editor "bylines" to the ends of features.

What made previous incarnations of the NYT Magazine so special -- we're thinking back through its history, when writers from Leo Tolstoy to J. Anthony Lukas graced its pages -- was its commitment to voice.

We get that the NYT is a "family newspaper" and that family newspapers don't say fuck. But isn't it time for a re-think on that policy? We've been arguing for a while against the NYT's antiquated rules against obscenity -- which only calls attention to their absence, in a world where they've become commonplace in print. It's going to happen sooner or later; why not now?

Meanwhile, we hope that the Lindgren era that began today will eventually bring with it the commitment to language and style that was the essence, and point, of the column he killed. The Horner edit isn't a very auspicious start.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Whoops! "She Doesn't Come Off As An Older, Desperate Person," 28-Year-Old Groom Tells NYT, Of 37-Year-Old Bride.

Will this marriage make it past the publication of their NYT wedding announcement this morning?

In today's NYT Styles section, the wedding blurb for 28-year-old Nathan Love and his 37-year-old bride, Karen Alinauskas, included an extended section about the couple's romance. Towards the end, it addressed the nine-year age gap between husband and wife.

"Later that February, when she thought that she could be falling for him, she began to question the differences in their ages," NYT weddings reporter Rosalie R. Radomsky wrote. "'I was thinking a 26-year-old is definitely not serious,' Ms. Alinauskas said. But she added that Nizza Heyman, her friend, told her: 'Don’t question love. Just enjoy yourself.'"

Turning to Love, Radomsky found the groom with his foot hoveringly perilously close to his mouth. She asked him about the age difference, whereupon he shoved it in -- perhaps permanently.

"As for Mr. Love, age was never really a concern. 'She’s brilliant and has a young soul,' he said. 'She doesn’t come across as an older, desperate person.'"

Fortunately for Love, the wedding took place last Monday evening.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Are NYT Critics Losing It? Ratliff Mistakes Trombone For Trumpet, Pareles Gets A Song Wrong, And Stanley Hears "Oddball" As "Awful."

Of course we all know that any critic can occasionally get it wrong.

But from the string of flubs in today's NYT corrections column, it would appear that the NYT's aging team of arts critics might be having some trouble following along with the art forms they're paid to cover.

According to the corrections:

-- In a critic's notebook on a 92nd Street Y performance last week, Ben Ratliff mistook a for a trombone for a trumpet.

-- In a review of Keith Jarrett's Sunday Carnegie Hall concert, Jon Pareles misheard an encore as the song "Someone To Watch Over Me." (The song was actually "Someday My Prince Will Come.")

-- In her Tuesday Golden Globes recap, Alessandra Stanley mistakenly quoted Christian Bale referring to the "awful characters" who make up the membership of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Actually, he called them "oddball characters."

Okay, so we'll be the first to admit that sometimes we find ourselves saying "huh?" in our Broadway balcony seats, or turning up the sound full blast when the characters on "Modern Family" mutter under their breath.

But it may be time for NYT critics to step it up a notch -- the volume, that is.

Maybe we're being a little greedy this morning -- the jet lag, and all -- but we're counting on the NYT's highly-paid, experienced team of arts critics to tell the difference between musical instruments, name tunes properly, and get the words right on television shows.

The NYTPicker And Maureen Dowd On Vacation Together At Undisclosed Mediterranean Location. Please Stand By.

Due to the volume of requests for information, we are revealing today that The NYTPicker and Maureen Dowd have been on vacation together for three weeks at an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. Please stand by. Posting will resume shortly.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

NBC's Brian Williams Declares NYT's "Discovery" of Brooklyn As Media Story Of 2010. "It's Like Marrakesh," He Says.

NBC News anchorman Brian Williams has declared the NYT's "discovery of Brooklyn" as the media story of 2010.

"There are young men and women wearing ironic glass frames on the streets," Williams said incredulously last Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," remarking on some of the NYT's more notable Brooklyn finds. "They are making grilled cheese sandwiches in the streets."

Williams's brilliant comic tirade at the NYT's expense came in response to Joe Scarborough's statement that he believed the iPad to be the media sensation of the year.

We've transcribed Williams's reply, and the rest of his riff, but you're better off just watching the short YouTube video clip:

WILLIAMS: It’s pretty slick. I am rarely without mine. I, however, am going to go a bit differently. I thnk the media story of the year, in 2010, was the NYT’s discovery of Brooklyn. Once a day, there’s a story about all the riches offered in that borough. There are young men and women wearing ironic glass frames on the streets. There are open air markets, like trading posts in the early Chippewa tribe, where you can make beads at home and then trade them for someone to come over and start a small fire in your apartment that you share with nine others. Artisinal cheeses. For sale, on the streets of an entire American borough. It’s been fascinating to watch the paper venture over the bridge. Venture through the tunnel. Go out to the outer reaches. The outer boroughs of the city. All different sections of the paper.

SCARBOROUGH: I want to get this down for Harold Ford. We’re going to take the subway over there.

WILLIAMS: They are making grilled cheese sandwiches in the streets. There are roving wagons that will make you a – Brooklyn. Yes….it’s just a fantastic….it’s like Marrakesh over there.

SCARBOROUGH: Who is the Lewis & Clark of the New York Times to discover Brooklyn?

WILLIAMS: I’m too busy reading content to notice bylines. I’m leaving here to get to an artisanal market that just opened up today. It’s a flash artisanal market. The newest thing.

"Spider-Man" Director Julie Taymor Withdraws From NYT's Arts & Leisure Weekend. Is She Mad At NYT? We Would Be.

It turns out the NYT's Arts & Leisure Weekend's one sure-fire newsmaking event -- a January 8 conversation between "Spider-Man" director Julie Taymor and NYT theater reporter Patrick Healy -- has been quietly cancelled.

Without making any public announcement, the NYT sent a refund notice yesterday to ticket-holders already going to the session. But it's still listed on the front page of its online schedule -- it doesn't even rate a red "cancelled" banner over the listing -- and when you click to buy tickets, the site says only: "The chosen event is not available for sale at this time. Please choose a different event."

Translation: it ain't happening, folks. And we all know why. It has to do with the mess that is "Spider-Man," and maybe even the aggressive way the NYT has been covering the story.

From the beginning, Healy's coverage of the production has poked at its high cost, its shifting start dates, its lack of adequate investment, and its dangers.

Starting in October -- when an actor named Kevin Aubin was injured during a demonstration of the show's special effects -- Healy has kept up the heat on Taymor and "Spider-Man." The NYT's Dave Itzkoff broke the news of the December 20 accident that left actor Christopher Tierney in the hospital with multiple injuries.

In a daring stunt of its own, the next morning NYT posted on its website 8 seconds of terrifying amateur video of the accident -- likely to become a veritable Zapruder film in the annals of this troubled production.

That can't have made anyone happy.

The show's opening has been moved to Febuary 7. Meanwhile it has been jammed for previews, despite widespread criticism of Taymor -- who Broadway actor Adam Pascal said should be brought up on assault charges. NYT commenters have been nearly unanimous in their attacks on the show and its director.

We wrote to Healy twice about the cancelled event; still no reply.

We did reach Rick Miramontez, the publicity agent for "Spider-Man," who referred our questions to Taymor's own publicity agents.

We asked Miramontez via email if either Taymor or the producers of "Spider-Man" are satisfied with the NYT's coverage.

"Please ask us next week," Miramontez replied, cryptically.

Meanwhile, don't despair. Some $30 tickets are still available to see Gail Collins interview Katie Couric.

UPDATE: About three hours after we posted this story, NYT arts reporter Dave Itzkoff posted about Taymor's withdrawal from the event on the NYT's Arts Beat blog.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday NYT Book Reviewer Accidently Attributes P.J. O'Rourke Quote To...Frederich Nietzsche?!

It's an easy mistake. Mixing up 19th century German philosophers and late 20th Century satirists.

Dani Shapiro did it this morning in her Sunday NYT Book Review critique of Poser: My Life In Twenty-Three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer. It's a memoir shaped around the author's favorite yoga positions. Here's the second paragraph of Shapiro's review:

This dark enchantment with the joys, rigors and travails of building a family life is at the center of this fine first memoir, and it’s heartening to see a serious female writer take such a risky step into territory where writers of literary ambition fear to tread, lest they be dismissed as trivial. Bills, laundry, cooking, breast-feeding, baby sitters, holidays, aging parents — my favorite curmudgeon, Nietzsche, put it this way: “Family love is messy, clinging, and of an annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.”

It's that last line that caught a NYTPicker reader off guard. Our emailer didn't recall Nietzsche making many, you know, home decorating references in his essays. (Although in fact the controversial philosopher did publish a book called The Gay Science.) So we all looked it up and discovered some misinformation on the web. Apparently a lot of quote books wrongly give the nod to Nietzsche on this one.

Our reader found the actual words in a 1994 book by P.J. O'Rourke called Modern Manners: An Etiquette Book For Rude People. On page 19, O'Rourke wrote:

To be a mannerly and courteous person you want only a few things from your real family: dignity, breeding, and piles of money. That's all anyone has ever wanted from a family. But all anyone gets from most families is love. And family love has nothing to do with "true love." Family love is messy, clinging, and of annoying and repetitive pattern, like bad wallpaper.

We've emailed O'Rourke and Shapiro for comment. Nietzsche is dead.

Friday, December 24, 2010

The First Annual NYTPicker Christmas Poem. (With Apologies To Roger Angell.)

Fair readers, hi! It’s almost Christmas morn
And for those not browsing media porn
We thought we’d bring you holiday rhymes
That sync up to the New York Times!

For starters, let’s properly celebrate
With the sterling Nate Silver, and his blog Five-Three-Eight;
He’s new, he’s smart, and well, kinda hunky
As opposed to, say, Detroit’s Nick Bunkley.

To the newsroom! There’s still time for one very last tango;
A three-way with Brian Stelter and (of course) Tim Arango.
And who’s that reading out-of-town clips?
Oh wait, we know – that’s where Dan Barry sits!

Next, quickly, a pit stop in the comfy confines
Of Verlyn Klinkenborg and Francis X. Clines.
Then we’ll deck Trish Hall with boughs of holly!
Maybe she’ll recommend us to replace Tom Jolly.

It’s the end of the year, so let’s stick a fork in
The bloviation of Andrew Ross Sorkin
Instead, let's make some more room on the show
For the numbers machine that is Charles M. Blow.

To Tim O’Brien, we say a hearty hasta la vista!
(Don’t tell him, but we prefer Judy Battista.)
We’ll miss David Shipley, the lord of op-ed;
Can’t we get rid of Paul Krugman instead?

And now, all, a round of he’s-a-jolly-good-fella
To the haircut in chief, the comely Bill Keller
You too, Jill! Come now, wipe off that pout
Bill let you blog about your little dog Scout.

Lest you think this poem is getting too petty
Here’s a tip of our hat to the great Mark Mazzetti!
Between Bruni and Sifton, it’s Frank by a nose
But we’re kind of in awe of Sam’s purply prose.

For tugging at heartstrings, there’s the dynamic duo
Of Susan Dominus and the great Michael Luo
But if it’s humor you hanker for, we have to admit
That nothing beats Maureen Dowd in a snit.

Other kudos include a tip of our sombrero
To Marc Lacey and, of course, Senor Simon Romero.
And here’s a statement that requires no correction;
Alessandra Stanley, you’re TV’s greatest confection!

As long as it’s writers whose gifts we’re exhorting
Here’s to Sam Dolnick for his metro reporting!
And if any athlete, anywhere, is doing bad shit
You can safely be certain it’s known to Mike Schmidt.

To all New York Times reporters posted near war,
We say thank you and godspeed, and nothing at all more.
To Hugo Lindgren, we wish good luck with his rag
You know, the still-curious NYT Mag.

The log’s in the fire, the paper’s ready to burn;
We’re caught up with Nocera and the fair Morgenstern.
We’ve remembered the neediest, and helped out a few
And so now, we say Merry Christmas to you!

Love, The NYTPicker