Dog Meets Cows

It is rainy and dull out there this morning and not a little bit raw, although it will get warmer. It’s Monday, the start of a new week, at the time of the year when we’re all doing our best to convince ourselves that things will get better. They won’t, but it probably doesn’t hurt to pretend that they will. In the meantime, enjoy these curious cows and the puppy that entrances them, because, really, if we can’t spend a minute or two appreciating the wonders of nature what hope do we have of even making it to Tuesday?

The Decemberists! Are Going to Save! Rock n' Roll!

by Rob Tannenbaum

Last week, The Decemberists announced the release of a double live album, We All Raise Our Voices to the Air, on March 13. On that date, the Portland band, almost caricature-ishly known for their erudite topics and lyrics (Google results for “Decemberists” + “hyper-literate” = 49,800), will join KISS, The Allman Brothers, Peter Frampton, The Grateful Dead, Kraftwerk and Sting in the pantheon of artists who have documented their stage performances. The live album has fallen into mostly-deserved ill repute (Google results for “live album” + “hoary” = 16,000), but perhaps Decemberists leader Colin Meloy can refresh the tradition with his sesquipedalian panache. Here are a few guesses at the stage patter you might hear on We All Raise Our Voices to the Air.

• “I want the guys to sing ‘Until a priory’ and the girls to sing ‘Took pity and hired me.’ Ready???”

• “When I say ‘N,’ you say ‘PR.’ NPR! NPR!”

• “Please say hello to our new guitar roadie, Mr. Peter Buck.”

• “This next song was a huge hit in Liechtenstein.”

• “We don’t usually play this song about the Battle of the Kentish Knock, but I had a bit too much Darjeeling tonight.”

• “Here’s a song I wrote in the ’90s. The 1690s!”

• “Now throw your hands in the air, and wave ’em like you’re at the Renaissance Faire!”

• “We’ve got tote bags at the merch table.”

• “This one goes out to all the foxy librarians who are here tonight. Male and female!”

• “Is cum omnes ante tempus?!”


Rob Tannenbaum is the co-author of the acclaimed I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. You can follow him on Twitter at @tannenbaumr. Photo by musicisentropy, via Flickr.

AFC and NFC Championship Sestina and Villanelle Picks

At New England -7 Baltimore 50

The Ravens are well known for their defense
but so much depends upon Joe Flacco
and Ray Rice if they are to defeat the Patriots.
Is there any quarterback handsomer than Brady?
Let’s hope Ray Lewis doesn’t destroy Foxborough
with his purple death rays this coming Sunday.

If the home team expects to win on Sunday
They will need to burn the Ravens’ defense.
Gronkowski must have a big day in Foxborough
And the Pats’ D must fluster Joe Flacco.
He’s certainly not as handsome as Tom Brady.
But he could be dangerous against the Patriots.

A lot of things have to go right for the Patriots.
Their secondary has to have a big game Sunday.
They need big production from handsome Tom Brady.
With their weapons they’ll spread the Ravens’ defense.
And hopefully put the pressure on Joe Flacco
to make mistakes and thrill the fans of Foxborough.

What could silence the crowd at Foxborough?
If the offense struggles for the Patriots.
The keys to victory is in the hands of Flacco.
Ray Rice could gain 200 yards on Sunday.
And they could fall back squarely on their defense
To silence the strong arm of handsome Tom Brady.

Pats fans completely trust Tom Brady.
They stopped secretly taping other teams’ practices in Foxborough
A bad policy for which they had no defense.
They haven’t won a Super Bowl since, these Patriots.
But fans hope that come the game on Sunday
they won’t be distracted by the weird facial hair of Joe Flacco.

It’s like some kind of weird horseshoe on Joe Flacco.
Who is not as handsome as handsome Tom Brady.
I look forward to watching his ass in the huddle on Sunday.
There won’t be any snow at game time in Foxborough.
The sestina form demands that I mention “Patriots”
And this line must end with the word “defense.”

This part of the sestina is called the ‘envoi’
and I am supposed to mention all of the words
I’ve repeated like 6 times, but I won’t.


At San Francisco -2.5 NY Giants 42

The 49ers must stop the G-Men’s Front Four
To complete their renaissance season.
But does Eli Manning have more miracles in store?

With no scoring this game might be a snore.
Will Alex Smith end up looking like Tony Eason?
The Niners must stop the G-Men’s Front Four

The wind at Candlestick will blow in from the shore
If the passing games are off that might be the reason.
But does Eli Manning have more miracles in store?

They should just hand the ball off to Frank Gore
That’s how they beat Drew Brees and
The Niners must stop the G-Men’s Front Four

I might watch the game with a whore
and poo on the American flag, which is treason.
Does Eli Manning have more miracles in store?

I’ll have to find my Jason Seahorn jersey in my drawer;
it’s too small, it makes me look like Jackie Gleason.
The Niners must stop the G-Men’s Front Four
Does Eli Manning have more miracles in store?


NFL Sonnet Playoff Picks went 2–5–1 last week. What the hell, Packers? That’s 132–136–8 for the whole season.

Jim Behrle tweets at @behrle for your possible amusement.

Dave Grohl Is Awesome

I don’t know that I’d go as far as to actually read it, but I am immensely pleased that there is a book whose title includes the phrase The Life and Times of Dave Grohl. The universe is now complete.

Oh No, a Child Molester Moved in Next Door!

When a kiddy-fiddler commandeers your cul-de-sac: “C. has a problem perhaps too serious to be called a quandary. A few months ago, she says, her family received a flier from the local sheriff. A registered sex offender was moving to her street of small, single-family homes. Hers is a long street, though, and she expected the offender to be some distance away and easily avoidable. Instead, he bought the house next door.” What to do, what to do? The answer is simple, really: just move to Manhattan.

A Q&A with a 'Daily News' Crime Reporter

by Paul Hiebert

For almost a decade straight, Kerry Burke has been reporting on crime for the New York Daily News, primarily homicides — or “murder and mayhem,” as he tends to call it. Burke was one of the reporters featured in Bravo’s short-lived 2006 reality series “Tabloid Wars,” which documented how writers and editors at the Daily News manage to put a great deal of the day’s activities into a newspaper that’s ready for sale the next morning. It got him a good bit of attention back then; now it’s 2012, and he’s still at it, contributing stories from all over the city, from waiting for Beyoncé to Occupy Wall Street to, of course, straight-up crime.

Burke landed an internship at the Daily News in 2002 after basically accosting an editor in the hallway, pressing writing samples into his chest. On Burke’s first day, he covered a honeymoon turned bloodbath. Eight months later, Burke was made staff. A former rock critic and a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, he has an official shift of 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., but it doesn’t always turn out that way. For several years, he ate spaghetti for breakfast. These days, Burke says he’s trying to carve out more time for his family. Just prior to our conversation, Burke was investigating a stabbing that occurred near a subway station. Payback for an earlier robbery, he surmised, but nothing enough to be newsworthy.

Did the Bravo show portray your profession accurately?

I really only saw the rough cuts to make sure I wasn’t getting fucked. It’s not like I want to be on television. It was a grueling process because all of a sudden I had to run around with a film crew. I still had to get into that goddamn building, but now with a camera on my tail.

Don’t get me wrong: they were gracious, they were good and they were very talented people. They did right by us. It was honest.

So when on the job, what’s the first thing you think about after being assigned a story?

How in Christ am I going to get there first? You need to get there before everything shuts down, before the police version is rehearsed, while the actual witnesses are still around. You need to get a participant, a principal to the story. If that means commandeering a cab, it’s commandeering a cab.

I was the first staff reporter in New York City to not have a car. Having a car was just taken as gospel; it was a condition of one’s employment. But my thing was, one, you’re not paying me enough — especially back then — and two, I can get there first using public transportation or a cab. While my colleagues are busy looking for parking and stuck in traffic, I’m on the subway. Basically, if you’re late, you’re dead.

How do newspapers like the Daily News hear about stories as they’re breaking?

We’re still old school here: we listen to police scanners. But there’s also BNN, the Breaking News Network beeper, which is now going onto iPhones. Basically they’re a service we subscribe to. They listen to walls of scanners and type in stuff. But you know what, it’s not very good. Very often they’re first, but we call it “Buff Beeper Bullshit” because it’s not that accurate. They let us know that something’s maybe up.

When you arrive at a crime scene, what’s generally happening? How do you go about reporting?

Very often it’s absolute chaos. But, you know, I’ve been doing this for a while, and I read scenes to figure out what’s happening when the world’s gone mad. I realize, okay, these detectives are the actual case detectives and those detectives aren’t. Okay, that’s family. Okay, the shots had to have come from over there. You figure out what happened just by looking at the lay of the land and everybody involved.

I see the pack of reporters, and I don’t follow the pack. I try to go off in a different direction. I keep an eye on them — I understand that playing defense is a part of every game — but I don’t just hang around waiting for the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information (DCPI), the press liaison on crime scenes, to give me handouts. Basically, what they give is cop version.

So a DCPI shows up at every crime scene?

No, they don’t. Very often they don’t show up at all. And very often when they do, they don’t talk. I respect what they do, but frankly that’s not where you get stories. If you’re just going to produce all the same stuff as everybody else, how good are you at your job?

How do you get witnesses, detectives, family members and so on to talk to you?

I’m unfailingly courteous. You show people respect and they’ll give you the goddamned world. We’re walking into their lives, very often on the worst day of their lives. They don’t owe us anything. One thing I say is “I’m terribly sorry to bother you. I know this is a difficult time. I wonder if you might say a few kind words about…” and then I turn it into a conversation. I don’t just question them. I open with an apology and I engage in a conversation.

This might seem like an old Catholic-school boy, but I also show up with a shirt and tie. Basically, they don’t know me from jack, and I’m going into their homes, their places of worship, their hospital rooms. A shirt and a tie convey respect. It’s very basic stuff. It also conveys authority: I’m someone you should talk to. I mean, it’s not something I grew up doing. Hell, I was a rock critic for a number of years with a ripped t-shirt and a leather jacket. But this is a remarkably different game.

And dress shoes. Always wear dress shoes. People look at your shoes. Dress shoes say you’re important. They say you’re official. They say you’re employed. People respond to that. I’m nobody special; I just happened to be the dude in the shirt and tie. I’m always looking at these cats that show up looking like second-string Hunter S. Thompsons. People don’t respect them. Detectives don’t want to talk to them.

What’s the most common reason people have for not talking?

People don’t want to speak for different reasons, but I think the biggest one is fear. Some people are afraid of cops, some people have outstanding warrants, some people are afraid of payback, and some people are afraid of being singled out by the media. Other people are dirty; they’re involved. Either they talk or they don’t. And if they don’t want to talk, what are you going to do, take hostages?

How do you deal with being in potentially dangerous situations?

Well, I do that everyday of the week. I’ve never walked away from a story. Violence is the cost of doing business. You keep your nerve, you keep your wits and you chase stories.

Have you ever had to pretend you’re someone you’re not to get access to a person or place?

I impersonate no one. When I go into a place, I do my best not to answer any questions, but if someone asks me who I am, I tell them. If you lie to people, your leverage is gone. Why should they tell you anything if you’re a liar? I know people who’ve done the impersonation thing, who’ve lied to people about who they are and what they’re doing, and they’re malignant. Decent journalists have to repair the damage they’ve done.

Don’t get me wrong: people have looked at me and seen a detective. I don’t rush around telling people I’m not a detective. But I let everybody I speak to know who I am. Sometimes it’s at the beginning of the interview, sometimes in the middle, and sometimes at the end.

Have you ever had to break the news of a crime to the victim’s friends or family?

I have lost count of the times I’ve done that. I know a lot of reporters who won’t do it, and I understand and respect that call. But one, someone’s got to tell them, and two, I do it with as much grace and empathy as I can summon. Frankly, I need their story. I do my damnedest to do justice to the family and to their lost one.

Do you ever receive angry calls or emails after a story’s been published?

Oh yeah. Death threats and all that. But I respond to everyone who writes or calls me, because that’s the test of legitimacy: facing your critics. Often people’s qualms aren’t about how accurate the piece is; the qualms are about how bad the situation is. They’re like, “You fucked us. You fucked us.” No. Tell me what’s wrong with the story. Is Eddie a coke dealer with a prior murder conviction? Yeah, he is. Well, then what’s wrong with the story? Nothing’s wrong with the story except that it made Eddie look like the murdering drug dealer he is.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been sued. Frankly, these tend to be fast hustlers looking for a score. We win because it’s all true and I do more than due diligence. They lose because the story’s true. If you can’t get the story right the first time, that’s going to haunt you. You’re not going to be employed for very much longer.

Do you ever feel that you’re intruding on people’s lives and exploiting their misery?

Well, I am intruding on their lives. Absolutely. That’s one of the reasons I’m so polite. It’s not always going to work out for the people involved, but I try to do justice to the story, and thereby justice to everybody involved.

I deal in other people’s agony. I do. You can’t candy coat that. But if you can’t live with that, you shouldn’t be in this game. I’m not some nice person from a nice place. I’m not. I do my damndest to be a decent man and an honest reporter.

But besides the paycheck, you must see some value in what you do.

If these stories aren’t told, then these people don’t count and these places don’t exist. They don’t. I’m from the old neighborhood, as it were, of Dorchester in the Boston area, and I know a little bit about being outside of society. Frankly, the awful things that happened in our neighborhood were the things that really impacted our lives. A homicide in Bed-Stuy says volumes to the people who actually live there. It tells them about the gang problems, the gun problems.

I was talking to some professor who said, “If it bleeds it leads” — implying that these stories aren’t important stories. I was like, “Where are you from, Princeton?” In East New York, people want an explanation for the madness outside their door.

I remember growing up and occasionally some horrific shit would go down in my neighborhood. And it would be ignored by the media. It told us we didn’t count. It made plain that we were outside society. These stories count, just like the people who live in these neighborhoods.

People say, “you’re apart of this ‘it bleeds it leads’ culture,” and I’m like, you bet your ass. I have no apologies for that.

How many stories are you usually working on at a time?

Usually anywhere from one to three stories per day. I try to do one story at a time if possible.

What do you bring with you on a typical day of reporting?

Stakeout food. Years ago I had this girlfriend who pointed out that I lived off of slices of pizza, Chinese takeout and beer, and that this would eventually kill me. She was right. She turned me onto yogurt and muesli. It tastes like paste, but it’s clean, it’s cheap and it’s fuel. So everywhere I go I got this container of yogurt and muesli.

I also carry cameras, flashlights, binoculars, notepads, pens, unread mail. I got bills in my bag and a newspaper to read. I have an iPad, which, in theory, I can file stories on, but that’s been a bad investment because the iPad connection just doesn’t really work when you need it. I have a charger, some plastic gloves, a Hagstrom map of the five boroughs, an umbrella and a checkbook, because the dirty side of the business is that sometimes I have to buy pictures. One time I got in a bidding war with the New York Post for footage of two police officers being killed. Another time I bought security footage of these killers. Before they went out to basically kill people, they went to a Popeyes Chicken. I went to that location and let’s just say I bought $1000 worth of chicken.

What’s one of the longest stakeouts you’ve been on?

A long time ago I was waiting four days around the clock to take a photograph of Sarah Jessica Parker’s baby. I was parked outside the hospital. It was single-digit temperatures. But I got the first picture ever. I squeezed off a few frames of her, the baby and her husband from behind a column near the exit of the hospital. I even got the baby’s face with his eyes open. That picture was worth a great deal of money, but the Daily News accidentally destroyed it. This was back before cell cameras, so I took it with an Instamatic. Someone accidentally destroyed the film.

What do you think about celebrity journalism?

I loathe it. But if that’s the big story, I’m in. Frankly, with all due respect, I didn’t even know who Sarah Jessica Parker was.

What’s your take on blogs and the burgeoning online media culture?

I don’t have a lot of time for that. I’m busy. This aggregation thing, it’s a bad ethos. If people are not producing original journalism, why should people pay attention? Overtime, they won’t. But by then the real institutions are going to be gone, and you just don’t build those overnight. Everyone’s going to be locked into these aggregators until they get bored and realize they don’t serve their interest, and they’re going to look around for the real newspapers and the real newsmakers, and they’re not going to be there anymore. Then what are we going to do?

Everyone’s got to stop aggregating and start producing news. Unfortunately, that costs money. But either we spend it or we lose it all.

After spending several years speaking with both the perpetrators and victims of violent crimes, including their neighbors, friends and family members, have you formed any larger, borderline-abstract theories on why crime happens in urban settings?

Frankly, in New York City we’re, what, 8.25 million people living on top of one another? With those types of numbers things are going to jump off.

The other reason — it’s old and hackneyed — is extremes of wealth and poverty. Poor people kill one another. People desperate for a piece of that wealth parading in front of them get involved in violent situations.

I go into these houses and there ain’t no men. I walk into these places and there ain’t no men. There are mothers and grandmothers, and there are these children that belong to whom exactly? Families are fractured. I see the unwanted children. Sometimes there are males around, but they’re the cats who are living off of the women. They’re on the couch, there for the drink and the drugs or whatever money she has. They’re the broken men. But there are no men. There are no fathers. Time and time again.

How do you prevent yourself from becoming quite sad after seeing these situations on a daily basis?

Like I said, I’m not a very nice person. I’m not from a nice place.

At the same time, I love these people. These are my people. I walk into these housing projects, cause as I child I lived in the housing projects. I know the fields in which I labor. I’m from the old neighborhood, and I know these people’s situations. And I’m always moved by their generosity. You find decency in the most staggeringly bad places.

Paul Hiebert is a writer in New York.

Stuff Your Peppadew With Kibbee

I am generally a proponent of going out to lunch. It’s so easy to find yourself sitting in your swivel chair, staring at your screen for twelve straight hours, urinating into a soda bottle and eating out of a bag like some kind of farm animal. Better to break up the day with a walk to, and some time sitting in, a nice place to eat food off a plate.

That said, it’s cold out right now. And some days, screw it, stay indoors and in sweat pants. This time of year, its good to have a well-stocked fridge. And I have a recommendation as to how to stock part of it, and what to do with that stock once you have.

First, go to Sahadi’s, the excellent Middle-Eastern foods emporium on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Take a number from the machine at the vast nuts display you see when you come in the front door. Actually, you might not even need to take a number, unless you’re shopping on a Saturday — oh, they’re closed Sunday, don’t go then. But if there’s a line, wait til your number is called and then ask one of the servers to serve you from the the long olives-and-pickles counter adjacent to the nuts department. (I mean, by all means, get some nuts, too. They’re delicious: the pistachios, the almond mix, the lemon-and-salt roasted pumpkin seeds, and, despite the rantings of a crazy person, the cashews. But nuts don’t make a proper lunch, and that’s what we’re talking about today.) At the pickle counter, point to the things labled “peppadews,” which are, as one of the guys there recently explained to me, “sweet-spicy pickled peppers.” They are small and spherical and bright, bright red and the guy went into some detail about the flavor. They start out sweet, he said, but then got hot and spicy at the end of their time in your mouth. He invited me to try one and I did, and I was so happy that I did, because his description was very accurate and it was a new and different taste sensation for me. And an excellent one. I asked him for a half-pound container. He then told me that they were very good filled with cheese. Feta, he said, or blue. I could see why someone would have thought to fill them with something, because they are just the right size and shape — they are a like a mini teacup, or a thumb thimble. And I have since learned that some people like to put hummus inside them, too. I’m sure all these combinations are tasty, but I tried something else, and that’s what I’m taking probably too long to tell you about.

After you get your peppadews (Oh, and definitely also get the pickled baby eggplant. Those things are the best, and an even brighter color than the peppadews — they glow, almost. From being soaked in red wine vinegar, I assume. In fact the pickled eggplant, which are little, like the size of a walnut, are almost exactly the color of the dress that my girlfriend wore to our high school prom, and so, I embarrassedly report, also the color of the cummerbund and tie that I wore with my rented tuxedo in New Jersey in 1989. And that color is most often called fuschia.) Anyway, after you get your peppadews and thank the friendly and informative and nuts-and-pickle server (that’s a good job title!), go to the back of the store, where the prepared foods are, and get yourself some kibbee. Because kibbee is what you should really stuff your peppadews with.

Kibbee is basically meat pie. It can be made with lamb or beef, apparently, but I think Sahadi’s is lamb. Pretty much just ground lamb and spices, it seems. There are “kibbee balls” on display at the prepared foods counter, too. But those tend to be dryer and less flavorful than the actual slices of pie. Lots of kibbee I’ve eaten from other places is similarly disappointingly bland and dry. It almost always needs salt and some tahini over the top. (Which, yes, get some tahini while you’re here at Sahadi’s prepared food counter, too, and some fried cauliflower and some spinach pies, too. Get enough food for a week. It’s winter, after all, and cold out. You might never want to leave your house again!) The actual slices of pie, though — and get a nice big slice, like well more than you’d want of a flourless chocolate cake, which is sort of what it looks like — seem to be kept moist by a thin crust of crushed-up bulgur (and, I think, more lamb).

So buy all this stuff and bring it home and then for lunch you heat up some kibbee in the toaster oven, and take, oh, eight or nine peppadews out of the container and put them on a plate, and when the kibbee’s ready, take a spoon and spoon out some ground lamb from the center and stuff it into a peppadew, push it in there real good, and pop it into your mouth. Repeat eight or nine times. (And then maybe go get a few more peppadews out of the fridge and repeat a few more times after that. Unless you have something as an accompaniment — a salad or a couple of bowls of soup or something.) Each stuffed peppadew makes for a perfect sized bite. And the rich, earthy meat makes for a perfect balance with the vinegar sharpness and the tingly sting of the pepper. Yum!

Or you could try one of the cheese versions the server recommended, or with hummus. I mean…

A Drynuary Diary: Week Three, The Bargaining

A Drynuary Diary

Week Three: The Bargaining

by Jolie Kerr and John Ore

Jolie Kerr: Merry Everythingisterriblenuary, John! Three weeks in. Are you as despondent as I am?

John Ore: It’s the Doldrums of Drynuary. Adrift in the middle of the month, coping mechanisms running low, no land in sight, wind out of your sails. Brings up all sorts of existential questions. Also, I keep seeing an albatross for some reason.

Jolie: Week Three is basically the March of Drynuary. Oh but! Speaking of coping mechanisms, I have a question for you: why do I feel like bringing O’Doul’s to a party is cheating? Rationally I know it’s not, but I feel like it is? #feeeeelings

John: (My birthday is in March, so tread lightly.) See? Existential questions. The answer is: because there’s actually a little bit of booze in it? LIKE COOKING WITH WINE (ahem)?!?!?

Jolie: That’s not even remotely cheating, the alcohol cooks off entirely. (I also cooked with sherry the other night and I don’t want to hear a thing about it. I DID NOT QUAFF FROM THE BOTTLE OKAY.) So you’re saying no to the O’Doul’s? Aw man.

John: I’m saying NO to the O’Doul’s. Your tolerance is so low now that you’d get a buzz from it! It’s 0.4% alcohol! You might as well do a body shot.

Jolie: Damn it. I was really looking forward to the visual of showing up at YM Shabbos with O’Doul’s.

John: Show up with it as a prop. Don’t drink it. It tastes like ass anyway, and you don’t like beer?

Jolie: I don’t love beer, no, though I’ve developed more of a taste for it in recent months? And I mean, I drink junk beer like Bud Light, so? BUT FINE. And no, I’m not going to spend money on a prop for crying out loud.

John: You’ve developed a taste for sudsy water? We need to talk, young lady.

Jolie: I’m a Clean Person, I like the taste of suds. I NOW APPEAL TO A HIGHER AUTHORITY FOR A VERDICT.

John: Looks like we’ve entered the Bargaining stage!

Jolie: “I have never been so low as I was on the day I bargained for O’Doul’s.”

Choire: Hello! O’Doul’s is not allowed, sorry.

Jolie: DAMN IT.

Choire: There’s of course some division on this topic among non-drinkers. I do not judge, technically. (The O’Doul’s crowd is like “BUT THERE’S SMALL AMOUNTS OF ALCOHOL IN FRUIT AND STUFF TOOOOO” basically.) But yeah no.

Jolie: Aleeeeeex. Choire & John told me I’m not allowed to drink O’Douls during Drynuary. And Carrie is being a puss and won’t weigh in. But she does want to know what you’d say, so this is me, bracing for whatever insult will be flung in response to this question.

Balk BTW: This is of course your alcohol fast so you do whatever you want, but if I had to make a ruling I would come down on the side of no O’Doul’s, because there is still a trace amount of alcohol in it. Sorry!

Balk BTW: Also, obviously, the vomit O’Doul’s factor, but that is more of an aesthetic thing.

Jolie: I’m absolutely crushed. Man, now I really want an etc.


John: It’s unanimous.

Jolie: Yes, I unanimously hate everyone. Should we just take this straight to the leaderboard? I’m too depressed to keep chatting.

Week Three

Alcohol Consumed (units)
Jolie: 0
John: 0

Days Without Booze
Jolie: 19
John: 18 (start on January 2)

Jolie: Despondent
John: Autopilot

Irritability (scale of 0–10)
Jolie: 4
John: 4

Jolie: Everything is terrible and I want to die.
John: Hey, I’m getting thinner! It’s one of the benefits of Drynuary. Either that or I ran over a gypsy with my (non-existent) car.

Jolie: Wracked with sobs.
John: My fist at the cruel heavens.

Smugness (scale of 0–10)
Jolie: 0, too depressed to feel anything other than sadness.
John: 2, Lording this over my daughter is losing its novelty.

Sounder Sleeping
Jolie: Not as well as Week One, not as anxiety dream-y as Week Two.
John: Better, actually.

Substitute Activities
Jolie: Cursing Alex Balk. Moping. Gently weeping.
John: Coffee. Words With Friends. Hockey. Peppering speech with religious allusions (uh oh!).

John: Looking on the bright side, I really am feeling a bit thinner these days, which is a bonus. Dads, vanity, etc. So I’m looking at this like the Glass Is Half-Full. Half full of fake wine, but still. It’s not all sackcloth and ashes, is it?

Jolie: I’ll admit that your Thinner reference did make me smile. And fine, while I’m admitting things I’ll confess that I’m actually not that despondent. Mostly because when I caught myself working into a major funk over a personal choice I’ve made and have complete control over, I gave myself a stern talking-to about my bad attitude. Which is, really, the thing about Drynuary — it’s all in the attitude. Working yourself into a “THIS IS HORRIBLE WHY-EEEEE” frenzy doesn’t do any good at all. So basically now I just mutter to myself in a Fred Gwynne voice, “Sometimes sobah is bettah.”

John: I’ll admit that I approached the long weekend with a bit of dread: the first weekend of Drynuary was a bite in the ass, so I expected a long weekend full of NFL playoffs to escalate the tension. But it was all good. Made some spaetzle, flexed my handyman muscles around the house, watched some football, did some writing, bought shoes, went to the movies. It was downright productive. I feel like I’m getting my second wind.

Jolie: I was kind of the opposite of productive, but yes the long weekend was all good for me too, once the stern talking to set in. Of course “the opposite of productive” for me still involved a lot of home cooking, hand laundering, column writing, bathtub scrubbing… so I don’t even know who I’m trying to fool with this. Basically I didn’t wear anything with underwire for three days, that’s what I’m trying to get at. Alllll good.

John: Yeah, I kind of feel like I can do this standing on my head now. Does the Twitterperverse agree?

Dry-nuary: How to survive a month without drinking:

— Kurt Loder (@kurt_loder) January 18, 2012

You know, I saw him at Balthazar once.

Jolie: Dude. I was his intern once. Merry Everythingisawesomenuary!

So here we are, two olden folks who are (carbon) dating themselves by being publicly excited that Kurt Loder is tweeting about them… what about the rest of you? Anyone else still up on this wagon? “Tell us in the etc.!”

Previously: Week Two; Week One.

Jolie Kerr is prone to melodrama. John Ore agrees.

Etta James, 1938-2012

Etta James, one of the greatest singers of all time, has passed away from complications from leukemia at the age of 73. She is justifiably best known for “At Last,” a song any performer would make a deal with the devil to have in her repertoire, but her talents ranged from blues to gospel to R&B; to standards to really anything she was interested in performing. Some favorites follow.

Man Likes Coffee

“Inspired by one professor’s infectious enthusiasm for Emily Dickinson, Obsessed is a new HuffPost Culture series exploring the idiosyncratic, all-consuming passions of public figures and unknowns alike. Through a mix of blogs and interviews, these pieces will highlight the elusiveness of whatever it is you just can’t live without — whether it’s blue jays, Renaissance fairs or fan fiction — or, as in the case of David Lynch, coffee.
— Internet, what is going on with you today?