9.8.15 “Nepotism is as common as oxygen.”

As a freelance entertainment writer, I’ve learned to live by the seasons. Right after the Oscars end, I pitch for Emmy stories. Right after the Emmys are over, it’s Oscar time. Between all that lies a lot of other writing to be done, but those are the pillar and post of my existence — or at least have been for the past six years. Today, despite the fact (and probably because of the fact) that the Emmys won’t be on until the end of the month, I sent out requests for interviews.

I may have overdone it. But then again, sometimes it’s amazing what simply does not come through. But then again again, sometimes you get completely overwhelmed. Welcome to Oscar season.

On with the ephemera of the day:

♦ Still hot out.

♦ Happy birthday to my little brother! He’s not this little any more, but neither am I:

Craig and Randee♦ For money today, I wrote about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson rescuing his just adopted puppy from the pool; Sam Smith, who will now croon you the next James Bond theme song; Jon Hamm splitting from his too-good-for-you girlfriend Jennifer Westfeldt; and the impending motherhood of a woman who went from booking people’s cars on the Today Show to being one of their correspondents.

♦ Maisie Williams may be tough-as-nails on Game of Thrones, but she’s adorably on top of things in her first-ever-YouTube channel video. It’s a long way to come from doing the cinnamon challenge three years ago.


♦ On a less amusing topic, a white writer who couldn’t get his poetry published submitted it with an Asian pen name and got into The Best American Poetry 2015. Book editor Sherman Alexie then defended the inclusion (the author “outed” himself in his author note) in the book and said he had moved it to the maybe/accepted pile in the name of diversity (“Nepotism is as common as oxygen”). These things upset people. My first instinct is to note that people have used pen names for years — and variations on their own names — to get published. Most common is for women to use initials; some have gone full gender-switch (George Eliot, James Tiptree).

This becomes more problematic, however, when race is involved and the tables are flipped, with the majority deciding to “be” the minority to supposedly game the system. The sad part is that anyone has to game any system at all. Good writing should be the end unto itself, with no favor and no quarter. But then we start entering into the world of affirmative action, which was needed because for a long time (and perhaps even now) good education wasn’t the end unto itself. I’m not sure there is a good answer here, only shades of bad. I mean, changing your name to get a seat at the table is an acknowledgement that the system is rigged against you. But getting that seat then means you always have to question whether you landed there on your merits, or because someone put you in the maybe/accepted pile because of your name.

By the way, the poem isn’t very good.