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... but sent to it, this biting and incisive letter from its copy editors.

After we were compared to dogs urinating on fire hydrants when we edited stories, in an internal report that called for the elimination of "low-value editing" and made it all but clear which stages of editing this referred to — so much so that it became a running joke among the copy desks for months ("How's the low-value editing going in your section today?") — along with the report's implication that copy editing was merely finding "easily identifiable errors, such as spelling and grammar mistakes";
After some of us were recruited for "editing tests" to streamline the process, or, as it turned out, figure out how to make our own jobs obsolete;

After we were told that to remain employed, we would have to apply for new "strong editor" positions meant to be a hybrid of the two types of editors at The Times, backfielders and copy editors, and realized only copy editors had to be reevaluated categorically;


After we were told that this "restructuring" would also reduce our numbers by more than half;

After completing a first round of interviews, some held by interviewers who clearly had not even read our résumés and cover letters, and competing against the very colleagues we are leaning on in these times;

Read the whole damn thing.

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Reprinted in full, minus image.

The Chicest Sticks

Long before the forager-artist Katie Ridley Murphy began sculpting sticks from porcelain, she sketched them from her own Atlanta backyard — and sold the resultant works as original drawings and prints. And each piece, regardless of the medium, was modeled after a real stick she found in nature.

Her mesmerizingly delicate work is inspired by, appropriately, her twin children — when they were 2, Murphy began enlisting their help to pick up the little sticks, which she would study and draw at home as the children swirled around her, playing. It was her calm in the midst of their beautiful storm. Her move from printmaking to the pottery studio took place about a year ago. And most of the sticks she seeks out these days, now that her children are 6, are white ones from nearby Arabia Mountain — where they sit atop the large granite rock face, and are naturally bleached by the sun.

At home, Murphy painstakingly recreates the shape and heft — as well as every nook and cranny — of each specimen, forming the pieces by hand, and adding about 20 percent to their size since they tend to shrink when fired in the kiln. The finer details come next, courtesy of a steady hand and an X-Acto knife — and Murphy’s grandmother’s old sewing needles. Each piece takes anywhere from eight to 28 hours to create; in the above slideshow, she shares her process.

Katie Ridley Murphy’s sculptures, $500-$2,500, are available at
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
 The NYT Style Section has an article about why many gyms are changing to private showers.  It includes such gems as:
Each day, thousands upon thousands of men in locker rooms nationwide struggle to put on their underwear while still covered chastely in shower towels, like horrible breathless arthropods molting into something tender-skinned. They writhe, still moist, into fresh clothes.

Wow.  It's as if men, just like women, have issues about modesty and about their bodies being judged.  Who would have thought?  Oh, wait, that isn't the reason.

Old-timers, guys that are 60-plus, have no problem with a gang shower and whatever,” Mr. Dunkelberger said. “The Gen X-ers are a little bit more sensitive to what they’re spending and what they’re expecting. And the millennials, these are the special children. They expect all the amenities. They grew up in families that had Y.M.C.A. or country club memberships. They expect certain things. Privacy, they expect.”

I know a fair number of 50-somethings who have wrenching memories of being naked in front of other adolescent boys, and being judged for their bodies.   It shows up  in essays and memoirs all the time.  Apparently I'm wrong, and this feeling is unique to millennials. 

Your gym wants you to have gym buds, with whom you buy expensive carb-infested juices on site and with whom you swap tips about trainers and teachers (but with whom you definitely don’t swap spit). And now your gym wants you to feel a little more at ease in that most sensitive space: the men’s locker room.
Your gym -- but definitely not the author of this essay -- expects you to be straight.   

Showering after gym class in high school became virtually extinct in the ’90s. And if Manhattan’s high-end gyms weren’t riddled with ab-laden models or Europeans (or both), there would be few heterosexuals under 40 who have spent any naked time with other men.
See previous comment.  There is no distinction between nakedness for the purpose of nookie and nakedness for the purpose of getting dressed.  Anybody who's up for the first is clearly up for (as it were) the second.

Mr. Dunkelberger believes that women pick a gym based on whether it is clean and safe. Only then do they imagine themselves in the environment. Men choose a gym more abstractly, less sensibly, more ineptly.
This article has been fatally lacking in stereotyping of women. Let's fix that.

For the conceivable future, the all-gender blowout bar looks to be the only moderately intimate gym location where men and women are likely to mix. For a city now seemingly mostly composed of subsidized young people from posh liberal arts schools who all dormed and often showered together, it’s queer, and a little sad, to see that desires for privacy and gender segregation are still entrenched in design.
Even though men don't like being non-sexually naked around each other, men and women should totally like being non-sexually naked around each other.

“We had an attempt at a coed sauna, thinking it would work well,” Mr. Kavanaugh said. “But it didn’t. I was surprised at the amount of puritanical behavior around mixing the sexes. I guess it goes to wanting more privacy.”
“If there was a man in there, women wouldn’t go in,” he said. “If there was a woman in there, men wouldn’t go in. It became very strange. I’m surprised at how less enlightened we are about crossing and mixing genders.”

Who knew?

mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Melissa Clark's New York Times recipe for skillet cornbread.  (Complete with ghastly perky video, if you can stand it)


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup maple syrup
2 ¼ cups buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal, fine or medium-coarse grind
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
Selected quotes:
  • Some cornbread falls on the light and fluffy side of the spectrum, sweet enough to pass for dessert. Then there is crisp, lean and salty cornbread, nearly as savory as the fried chicken that often goes with it. This recipe splits the difference.
  • Crisp-edged, maple-syrup-spiked and tender-crumbed, a buttered slice works equally well with a drizzle of honey or with hot sauce, or both if you just can’t decide.
  • Pay attention to the scent wafting around the kitchen. When it smells like chestnuts roasting on a street corner in December, immediately pour the butter into a bowl to stop the cooking.
If you watch the video -- and I recommend being up-to-date on your insulin first -- you'll discover that Clark chooses both the cornmeal grind and the whole-wheat flour because they add sweetness.

Bless your heart, honey, if you want a cake, make a cake. 
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
  •  Yesterday, when I came into the house in the evening, I gathered a nosegay of old roses:  Mme. Isaac Pereire, a China I can't remember, and Devoniensis (a.k.a. "Tradd Street Yellow").   I could have added Vineyard Song and Chrysler Imperial, had I chosen.  The kitchen smells beautifully rosy.
  • My laptop ate its hard drive  yesterday and I am going through withdrawal.  My cellphone is great for mail and the Guardian, but terrible for DW and Tumblr and general Web-noodling.
  • Last night the NYTimes app sent me an alert about the Final Four.  This morning the Guardian app sent me an alert about a school stabbing in Pennsylvania.  The Guardian's breaking-news coverage of this story is, as usual, far, far better than the NYT breaking-news coverage.
  • I am mainlining "The Thick Of It".   This has (A) given me a whole new perspective on ministerial shuffles (B) made my internal dialogue far, far more sweary (C) cemented my crush on Peter Capaldi.   Not Malcolm Tucker, mind; I'm not insane.  I am now engrossed in the fannish debates on why the hell Malcolm often wears a wedding ring (n.b. because Capaldi didn't always take his own off) and who the child peeking out of his house in S3 was.
  • Am making steady progress on two 1910s dresses for daughter and self, to be worn to a GBACG ice cream social Saturday.  Definitely in adrenaline mode, but not yet panic mode. 
  • Said to husband, "I'm going out Thursday evening."  Husband:  "He's a lucky guy."  (Off to a movie with [personal profile] movingfinger , actually.)
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Mark Bittman, the food columnist for the New York Times, has discovered the glories of cruise ships. I'll wait right here while you go get a drink.  

Are you back? The great thing about cruises is that, if you're the food columnist for a major newspaper, you can travel for free! Mr. Bittman recommends the experience wholeheartedly.

Nevertheless, my first journey took some gearing up to, because cruising is so easy to put down. I was like that: too sophisticated to consider it.
If there's one promising start to a New York Times lifestyle article, it's the writer explaining that he is far, far too New York to consider this exotic and foreign -- but not in the sophisticated, world-traveller way -- experience.  Within a few sentences, we know, the finest in upper-middle-class condescension will be on tap.
Many of the common complaints about cruise ships ring true: The best of the entertainment is boring. Most of the food is mediocre, and it’s usually about as opposite of “local” as you can find... The excursions are rushed, timid, overpriced. Many of the ports have nothing in them worth seeing. The companionship is limited. (The best cruise joke I know: “This cruise has the oldest passengers I’ve ever seen. And most of them brought their parents.”) There are the risks of illness, although my experience is that the industry has become germophobic and ships seem safer than most workplaces, contagion-wise. Then there’s the issue of safety, although there’s not much to worry about. You might hit rough seas, and even become seasick.
Sign me up, baby.   "I am a professional food writer, but I've decided mediocre food isn't all that bad."
Some other things I have found: In general, the prices are not unreasonable, especially since they’re often discounted.
"But so much of it!"

The service is usually excellent, especially compared with hotels and restaurants on land, at least most of the places I frequent.
"I, Mark Bittman, need to get out more."
The food is as abundant as you’ve heard, generally better than that in most hotels; furthermore, after a few days, you can probably strike a deal with a friendly cook to customize it as you like.
"...if you're the food columnist for the New York Times."

There’s also an odd level of equality: Everyone spends time in the public spaces, and those are shared, although there are no doubt exclusive lounges for the highest-paying passengers. Much of the food, too, is the same for everyone.
"It may be mediocre, but I am comforted by the knowledge that nobody else is getting anything better."

But there are two other factors that make cruising not only unusual but uniquely satisfying, at least to me. ... It is simply that the “floating hotel” means that your vacation is structured like this: You get onboard; you unpack; you never change rooms again; and yet you go different places. Effortlessly. ... it’s an incomparable luxury to put your suitcase under the bed and not think of it for days or, if you’re lucky, weeks. To keep your toothbrush parked in the same place; to not search for your cellphone charger among your belongings; to leave your magazines in a stack; to recover from jet lag once, at most — all while actually traveling — this feels inconceivable.
Allow me to introduce you to the concept of vacationing in a short-term apartment or house.  I bet you could  discover this while reading any travel essay in the New York Times in the history of mankind.   Protip: Search for "Tuscany".  

At the beginning of those seven days, we — I was traveling with my wife — were cautious. Seven days at sea? With these people? And yet, these days were fantastic.  [it. mine]
No comment.

These are hours spent staring at passing islands or shorelines, wildlife, the sky and sea.  
Fair point.  

These are hours spent not doing these things: reading, catching up on long-term projects, binge-watching shows that everyone else watched two years ago.  
What, you didn't bring any books or DVDs?   (Leaving aside the concept that reading is a chore.)

Time slows, warps. One sits inside looking out, the banality of the ship framing the sublime nature of the landscape. Often, the ship’s roll is soothing, as if you were placed in the hand of a walking giant. The sound of the ocean is constant; the salt air breezes through every opening. The “culture” is so middle-America (even on non-American cruise ships, it seems), and demands so little that you can actually think. What a change.  
[it. very very much mine]

And then you go eat dinner.
"Which, as I may have mentioned, is substandard."

I always thought Mark Bittman's cooking column was substandard, but that's just me.  Perhaps it's because I am (although living in California) middle-American.
mme_hardy: White rose (Default)
Times essayists imagines buying new house and making new garden.

Some people are afraid to dream, because then they’ll get their hopes up and they’ll be even more disappointed when they have to settle .... In the best-case scenario, I reason, the good karma your vision creates will draw you toward your dream like an unwavering GPS signal.

Leaving aside the ignorance of GPS, whatever you're describing, it isn't karma.
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Colin Robinson in the New York Times, "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Reader"
  1. People aren't reading novels any more BECAUSE ELECTRONICS.
  2. Professional book reviewers are on the decline.
  3. Publishers are cutting budgets to keep profits level. This is hard on writers. The midlist is dying.
  5. Newspaper book review sections are smaller, book reviewers are paid less.
  6. The growth of Goodreads and Bookthing is phenomenal. (How do we reconcile this with point 1? Unclear.)
  7. "the range of collective knowledge in pools of this size is incontestable. But it derives from self-selecting volunteers whose authority is hard to gauge. "
  8. Readers recommending books to one another is bad because "another typical Internet characteristic: the “mirroring” of existing tastes at the expense of discovering anything new."
  9. Kindle self-publishing: "But to express discomfort at the attrition of expert opinion is not to defend the previous order’s prerogatives. Nor is it elitist to suggest that making the values and personnel of such professional hierarchies more representative is preferable to dispensing with them"
  10. Writers can't support themselves without a day job.
  11. Writing hobbyists, NaNoWriMo. Paragraph conclusion: "Indeed, to the extent that they expand the mind-boggling proliferation of new titles being published (more than 300,000 in 2012), they are adding to the problem." (Reconcile this with point 1? Show work.)
  12. Peroration (complete): "Faced with a dizzying array of choices and receiving little by way of expert help in making selections, book buyers today are deciding to play it safe, opting to join either the ever-larger audiences for blockbusters or the minuscule readerships of a vast range of specialist titles. In this bifurcation, the mid-list, publishing’s experimental laboratory, is being abandoned."
  13. Colin Robinson is the co-publisher of OR Books.

I was going to dissect, point-by-point, what self-indulgent rubbish this is, but I think it speaks for itself.


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