Thursday, November 20, 2014

I am hate listening to Serial

I love police and legal procedurals, often the freakier, the better. I also have a long, fond history with This American Life (shared a few WBEZ pledge drive shifts with Ira Glass - he's taller than you'd think, likes fresh muffins). So when you put those two together, I should be all over the Serial podcast: it's a real life, ongoing whodunnit from the makers of TAL. What's not to love?

Two major things...

- What I enjoy about procedurals isn't the gore or the scandal, but the conclusion; I want to know who, and especially WHY, and prefer when the bad guys suffer. There's no guarantee that anything will resolve at the end of Serial - it's still being researched and recorded. We may -hell, probably will- end up exactly where we started.

- Serial isn't fiction. It's about the death of a real person, and while someone has been punished for her death, he might not actually be her killer. Even if Serial closes with a clear bad guy and appropriate retribution, it won't reanimate Hae Min Lee, and it won't rewind the last fifteen years for Adnan Syed.

I am happy to poke fun at the ripped-from-the-headlines-ness of Law & Order, or shiver over the creeps on Criminal Minds, but those narratives aren't real; I can step away from them with a clear conscience. Sarah Koenig obsessing (and often laughing) over how and why Hae was killed feels ghoulish and cheap.

None of which explains why I keep listening.

A bunch of media sources I admire are fixated on Serial: Slate, Pop Culture Happy Hour, Jezebel. I look forward the Thursday morning release of Serial, not for the podcast itself, but to review the outside analysis and try to understand the attraction.

I do not find this story engaging, I do not find these people compelling. I do not think Sarah Koenig is a good storyteller, I do not consider this an interesting podcast. But I keep listening because it sparked something for people I respect, and I'm trying to understand why.

Monday, October 6, 2014

How Not to End a First Date

TRIGGER WARNING: humblebrag, plus unsolicited advice

I give pretty good first date; probably 70-80% of the time, I'm asked for a second. Great for my ego, but the interest is only occasionally shared. None of this would be a big deal, but I keep getting asked for a second date before the first has concluded.


People, I am a coward. If you ask me in person to go out again, I will say yes. It could mean I want to date you, but it could also be I lack the stones to reject you to your face.

Don't do this. Give your date some breathing room. You may be over the moon, but that doesn't mean your tingles are reciprocated. End the date with a warm thank you and some lingering eye contact, then leave. If you want to go out again, ask electronically as soon as you'd like (forget the three-day rule). That gives the other person room to craft -if needed- a kind, face-saving 'no thank you.'