On the Internet and Writing

I’ve been reading David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction lately because whenever I want to read a good piece of writing for inspiration, I find his work to be the most helpful. One of the great things about his essays is that he spends a lot of time and admirable energy figuring out what makes writing good and what makes it not good and how writers can use the English language to best do their jobs. His quest to explain this is a highly cerebral, tiring slog, but one that I find myself wish more people writing things on the internet would spend time with.

DFW tells us repeatedly that essays are for the reader. He argues that it is not the reader’s job to figure out why she should be reading a certain writer’s work, but the writer’s job to show the reader why she should be spending her valuable time reading what a writer has to say. Essays, he explains, are not to serve the writer, but the reader. And this is something that I find a lot of internet writers either forgetting or completely oblivious to.

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Answers to All My Cat’s Most Burning Questions

1. It’s not my fault you devoured your second — and LAST! — helping of food for the day. Your eating really is happening at an alarming rate lately. If I didn’t love you I wouldn’t feel comfortable saying this, but you’re like a diet freak who’s only eaten brown rice and steamed vegetables for dinner for eight years and just been told they took all the calories out of calories. Do you know how hard it is to have a cat people think is “fat”? Do you know how many times I’ve used the, “She’s not fat, she’s just big-fured” line in your defense? And I believe it so don’t make me change my mind.

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So… This is Happening Again!

Hello readers!

I took a not-necessarily-brief hiatus from writing under the yellow sideways pineapple to launch a new section on BuzzFeed called Shift. It’s full of inspiring stories; fancy cats; Beyonce clothing commentary (okay fine: it’s not commentary so much as PRAISE because I’m Beyonce biased); analysis about the intersection of the internet, pop culture, and feminism; and much more.

I hope you’ve been reading and enjoying Shift and apologies for the recent technical difficulties at amyodell.net and absence from this space lately! More posts about nothing in particular coming soon.

Oh and I guess I could say something about Raf Simons’s debut Dior Couture collection so that this post is actually ABOUT something?

1. I found it appealingly simple yet awkward enough to be interesting.

2. After spending my Sunday evening at a Fourth of July party where one of the female guests wore three outfits that all perplexingly managed to display her entire lower ass, I have to say that anyone who’s encouraging ladies to wear MORE PANTS these days is a good thing.

3. Who am I to scoff at a tie-dyed couture ballgown? It’s like they’re trying to get a Dior-inspired infographic trend on the DIY Pinterest boards. (Another fantastic recent attempt of trying to get an unexpected craft project trending is here.)

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What Downton Abbey and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills Have in Common

I don’t watch much TV, the scripted kind especially, so when I find a show I can’t stop watching I devote considerable mental energy to figuring out why it’s so great. Obviously Downton Abbey is top of mind this week since the second season finally ended Sunday night with foxy Matthew and sleeveless dress-wearing Mary engaged and embracing in the snow, as though inside the sort of non-religiously themed snow globe people might actually really own. How great was this moment? The release of hours and hours and months and months of sexual tension — a tension so tense that that their “oh are we doing this again?” “I confess I love you but we said we wouldn’t, o!” actually became obnoxious. If they didn’t finally get it on at the end of that season finale, I would have given up and moved on to caring about bitchy Edith.

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How Much Do Celebrity Stylists Make?

A tiny snippet of this story, which I completed several months ago, appears in this week’s issue of New York, about the economy of celebrity. Here is the full thing, which you can’t read anywhere else.
In December of 2009 the London Times declared that styling was the dream career of the Noughties for young women. Part of the dream surely has something to do with the riches a successful stylist can accrue. Who knew that telling a major celebrity “these shoes with this bag” and “this dress with that hair” could be worth $10,000 per day for however many days it takes to make the decisions? And it’s never just one day.

What used to be a behind the scenes job, red carpet styling has become a highly visible one, producing celebrities in its own right, thanks to shows like E!’s Fashion Police, which critiques red carpet looks, and Bravo’s The Rachel Zoe Project, which follows the life and career of top stylist Rachel Zoe. When stars walk down the red carpet at the Oscars on February 26, in what is the world’s most scrutinized annual gown fest, you know that behind all of the outfits anyone will be talking about is a stylist. And the money it cost to look that way might be more than the dress, bag, jewels, and shoes combined.

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The Lima, Peru Airport: Hell With Great Socks

Coming back from Buenos Aires last week, I was forced to endure a layover in Lima, Peru, that began between 3 and 4 in the morning, and ended at 6 p.m. I thought, after that 15 hour layover, I would never want to return to Peru — Machu Picchu is on the bucket list, sure, but maybe it can just be seen by people who are not me, you start to think. But then, on my way to my gate after a full day of hanging out in the LAN (by the way, eff you for the layover LAN!) “VIP” lounge, I saw the gift shops.

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Things That Happened on My Two-Week Trip to Argentina and Uruguay (Excluding My Whirlwind Tour of South America’s Busiest Airports But Stay Tuned For THAT)


1. In Mendoza, I rode a horse through the “foothills of the Andes,” which are not to be confused with “the Andes,” as one wine-tasting tour guide corrected a travel companion who, looking pensively off in the distance out the bus window, asked, “Are those the Andes?” It was a question that seemed all-too-obvious, but alas merited one of the most memorable question-answers of the whole trip. Continue reading

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