If coffee art had its own category in Academy Awards, “Coffee Artist of the Stars” Michael Breach (@baristart) would certainly rank a nomination if not sweep – especially this year for his coffee art creations for the Best Picture nominees.
Among the various breeds of online brain-candy, by far one of the most insidious is the so-called Listicle. A portmanteau of “list” and “article,” the word sounds like what would result if you tattooed your grocery list on a particular part of the male anatomy (which would probably fit right in with the adventuresome inksters at Whole Foods, actually). Milk, eggs and what else? Permit me to unzip and check my listicle.
The listicle is usually comprised of a thin lead, a series of bullet points and a vague summary. I’ve written dozens – or rather, I’ve filed dozens when I was too hung over or bored to write something that required extra line breaks to fill a column inch. This is not one of those moments, tempting as it is to enumerate the “5 Reasons I Missed My Deadline Again” (No. 3: “Deadline, I thought you said ‘bed lyin’ – so I slept in”) or “3 Ways to Have a 3 Way Without Your Marriage Counselor Trying to Get Involved – with Your Wife.”
List-inclined writers often struggle to get as many words into their work as bullet points. Consequently, their pieces read like Bonnie and Clyde’s Flathead Ford. Sure, it drives but…
This isn’t a problem for me since I usually don’t know enough about any one subject to have more than a couple of bullets about it. And I’ve got to gussy those up with copious amounts of verbiage lest my readers notice the holes in my liberal arts education. Actually, there’s just one hole, but it’s vast and black and inhaled a lot of money into oblivion some years ago.
Listicle of Listicles
Predictably, the listicle concept has turned in on itself resulting in listicles about listicles. I’m guilty of having once written, Top Ten Top Ten Lists. Last month, my colleague Rachel Edidin, at Wired’s Underwire blog, published 5 Reasons Listicles Are Here to Stay, and Why That’s OK. Obviously, it’s okay – Listicle.co has based its business on the concept. “Listicle is a social blogging platform that allows everyone to create and share listicles,” its site explains. Great, more amateurs pushing out the professionals. Good for you, Internet.
Cracked, the humor site that spun out of its print magazine, has mastered the listicle principle in its own cockeyed way. Every ounce of its content is effectively a list: as in, 5 Random Coincidences That Invented Modern Pop Culture – No. 5: Stan Lee’s Laziness Led to the X-Men.” Apparently, Lee forewent the work necessary to create origin stories and asked instead, “What if they were just born that way?”
Perhaps that’s how listicles themselves came to be – they’re not undernourished articles reduced to a collection of skeletal subheads, but rather mutations. With superpowers. And maligned by bigots who fear them. In short, heroes here to clean up the joint, through brute force if necessary.
As Wolverine says, “I’m the best at what I do but what I do best isn’t very nice.” Yes, Listicles are kicking my ass.
But why? Because, according to Edidin, “2. Lists Give Us Additional Ways to Interact With Information … Lists let us process complicated information spatially, transforming it from cluster to linear progression.” Since much of real life is a cluster (add your own four-letter word here), let alone some newspaper columns. Perhaps listicles are the solution to all our problems, perhaps not. All I know is that my name has been on one since grammar school – usually circled and with a check next to it.
That said, I don’t doubt I’m doing it wrong. I should try to use the power of the list as a force for good – like not forgetting to buy butter at Whole Foods. Okay, sign me up for a listicle. Just one thing, how bad does it hurt?
According to Travel + Leisure, Sonoma ranks No. 8 among “America’s Most Romantic Cities.” Apparently we have myriad “couples-friendly enticements,” which sounds more like a Craigslist “casual encounters” ad than is probably meant.
Besides enticements, the magazine cits Sonoma’s “noted lack of kids” as contributing to our romantic ranking. Naturally, there are kids in Sonoma – somewhere, I bet – but they’re not allowed to fraternize with the grown-ups who visit.
Sonoma Valentine’s Day
This could all change tonight. A Retail Advertising and Marketing Association’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey suggests that 11,000 kids might be conceived on this most auspicious of days. Incidentally, that’s about the same number as the population of the City of Sonoma-proper. At first glance this numeric symmetry brought to mind some interesting mathematical possibilities if everyone in town got it on tonight. Then I remembered that the total number of women of childbearing age in town is, like, five and they’re all single and openly kvetch that the total number of acceptable male breeding partners in town is, like, three. And one of those guys is gay. Another is married. And the last one is just scared.
Dating in Sonoma isn’t so much a contact sport as it is a kind of mind game that requires someone else’s body. And yours too if you’re lucky. This leads to semantic anomalies around handy verbs like “screw.” The difference in the progressive aspect, “screwing,” and the past-tense, “screwed,” can indicate the relative success of one’s evening. To wit, one can get screwed-over, however, it’s difficult to get screwed-under though many in town are purportedly under-screwed – if the stoop-shoulder dregs shuffling out of Steiner’s at 2 a.m. are any indication.
Surely, somewhere there’s a mating manual called the Sonoma Sutra. In it there are sexual positions cultivated over the decades by the Sonomans of yesteryear. These include the “back at ya” wherein both partners, after a night of drinking, lie on their backs and hope the spinning of the room lands one atop the other.
Another popular position in Sonoma is known as the “The Tile of Denial” requires one partner to lie on a tiled bathroom floor curled around the toilet while the other partner stands by the door with a glass of water. This position can be sustained for hours and is often considered a “tantric” style of lovemaking with sessions often lasting into the wee hours of the morning.
The “Blow-n-Woe” is an oral exercise that requires copious amounts of wine, a car, a cop and a breathalyzer test. ’Nuff said.
So, yeah, the Great Sonoma Population Boom just went bust. Most notions regarding men and women in Wine Country go bust – like the local marriage counselor who considered writing “Men are from Napa, Women are from Sonoma” until he sobered up. It’s just as well, otherwise we’d end up with some activist men’s group – the “Sonomen” – set on “taking back” the town with some dumbass slogan like “’Noma Pride!” Until their wives tell them to shut up.
Sonoma should start campaigning now if it wants to get closer to the Travel + Leisure’s coveted number one spot on next year’s “America’s Most Romantic Cities” survey. (Incidentally, We also ranked among the top ten in a reader poll for having “quirky locals,” which we can completely attribute to city councilman Ken Brown.)
This year’s top ranking romantic locale is St. Simons, Georgia. In a small way, the victory is also ours – after all the wine list from J. Mac’s Island Restaurant on the isle boasts a bottle of “J” Sparkling Brut, which is at least Sonoma County. Sure, that’s like getting cubic zirconia instead of diamonds – but it still sparkles, right?