Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Paper of Yuks

The New York Times prides itself as being the paper of record. As its masthead says, it tries to carry "All The News That's Fit To Print." In that vein, it views itself as a bastion of serious journalism. And while its coverage and editorial outlook leans left, it by and large holds true to that mission.

As a byproduct of that, it has some of the best writers in the world in its stable. In areas from current affairs to politics to business to the arts to commentary, it boasts names like Nick Kristof and Walt Bogdanich and Gretchen Morgenson to mention but a few. But in addition to their amazing reportage, there are a number of others who have a more acerbic style. As a person who does a little writing, I appreciate the artisanship a pithy one (or two or three) liner. I keep a file of these gems of snark; while hardly my entire collection, herein are some of my favs.

"Because life is short and I have other things to be upset about, I will not dwell on the offensive aspects of 'Blended,' the new Adam Sandler comedy: its retrograde gender politics; its delight in the humiliation of children; its sentimental hypocrisy about male behavior; its quasi-zoological depiction of Africans as servile, dancing, drum-playing simpletons; its -- I'm sorry. That's just what I said I wouldn't do. (A.O. Scott)

"In 'Cluck,' the image of Nadia Tykulsker lovingly trying to coax a raw chicken into flight as she is assailed by lemons was nicely absurd, yet the piece was underdeveloped." (Brian Seibart)

"Olympic opening ceremonies are a little like a first date: The host country, dolled up with costly hair extensions, Christian Louboutin heels and a brand-new black cocktail dress, recounts amusing childhood anecdotes and college triumphs but leaves out her D.W.I. arrest. (Or, in the case of Russia, the gulag.)" (Alessandra Stanley)

"Not all Jets fans were sold. One said that having both Mr. Tebow and the incumbent quarterback Mark Sanchez on the roster feels like choosing between 'Police Academy 2' or 'Police Academy 3.'" (Matt Flegenheimer)

"Two weeks ago, they joined hands in a nine-mile ring around the center of Moscow and stood for more than an hour just smiling — an activity Russians tend to avoid and regard as the domain of half-wits and Americans." (Ellen Barry)  

"Coach Bill Belichick could try to bolster his deep passing game by activating Chad Ochocinco and giving him a significant role in the game plan. He could also arrive on the sideline in an Armani suit and start hugging beat reporters." (Mike Tanier)

"Sometimes a movie is so awful that the word awful is not up to the task of conveying its awfulness. The awful 'InAPPropriate Comedy' is such a movie. It is memorably awful. It is stunningly awful. It is so awful that we are fortunate that 'awful' has an adverbial use that means 'very' or 'extremely.' This movie is awfully awful." (Neil Genzlinger)

"A look at women-only gigolos in Las Vegas is a little like a cooking show devoted entirely to vegan steak recipes." (Alexandra Stanley)

"'Lord of the Dance,' which has been touring the world for 15 years, features a large cast of dancers and musicians enacting a barely there story of good (represented, of course, by Mr. Flatley) and evil (represented by some guy in a black costume that makes him look like the kind of bug you'd see as the logo on the side of an exterminator's van)." (Neil Genzlinger)

"The first 'Tron' ended after Kevin vanquished a computer program that looked like a neon Easter Island statue and talked like a SeƱor Wences hand-puppet." (Manohla Dargis)

"The Blooms aren't just excellent at espionage; they are also caterers, who, having retired from the CIA when they got together, are easily talked into working as freelancers as long as they don't have to relinquish marinating fillets. (You need us in Peshawar? Really? I'm sorry, we have the Weintraub bar mitzvah on Saturday. (Gina Gellafante)

"Your watch will tell you that a shade less than two and a half hours have elapsed, but you may be shocked at just how much older you feel when the whole thing is over" (A.O. Scott on "Sex and the City 2")

"At this point, any series about teenagers that imagines a world without vampires feels like remarkable cultural progress." (Gina Bellafante on "Pretty Little Liars.")


Marc Wollin of Bedford admires a good phrase. His column appears regularly in The Record-Review, The Scarsdale Inquirer and online at, as well as via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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