By Elaine Liner
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
There was a brief flirtation with a trend piece on celebrity deaths (Johnny Cash, John Ritter, Fred "Rerun" Berry), till an editor suggested that since famous people are likely to die each year, there was not much of a story there. I also toyed with the notion of a profile of American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, though his forthcoming album of Clay Aiken covers rendered it a non-issue. There was the 2,482-word essay devoted to my obsession with Hilary Duff, rejected by this newspaper's attorneys on the grounds it was "too creepy." One piece that did run out of steam quickly was a proposed essay on how the Madonna-Britney kiss on MTV was the ultimate turn-on; all I could get out of it was 34 seconds' worth of material.
Also scheduled were follow-ups to stories about "the death of irony" and "how everything has changed" since September 11, 2001, till it was pointed out that irony was alive and well and nothing at all has changed since September 11, 2001. Axed, as well, was the column on the alleged anti-Semitism of The Passion director Mel Gibson, who has since pointed out in The New York Times that some of his best lawyers are Jewish. And gone is the whole column about Gabriel Garcia Marquez written using only "izzle," "shizzle" and "nizzle," because the piece fizzled three words in.
Looking over notebook dated "July-September 2003," I did find a few ideas I briefly considered salvaging in October, among them the piece in which I would give a homeless man a Queer Eye makeover, but that has since been taken by several daily newspapers desperately seeking Pulitzer Prize consideration, so I was forced to pass. Also found mention about how poker has become suddenly popular, then realized I had already done 14 stories on subject and, again, was forced to pass.
Here's a random entry from same notebook: "Craig Kilborn--overrated or underrated?" Most likely passed on this because he's both, though I don't really remember who Craig Kilborn is anymore, which also may have had something to do with it. (Note to self: Find out who this Jimmy Kimmel is.) Maybe like you, this year I became fascinated with the iPod--not with actually owning one but with people who spend $400 on an MP3 player and then load it with their entire CD collection consisting of hits-of-the-'80s compilations. Note to editor: I am not talking about you, at all. Also on the musical front was the piece about pro-war songs, but since I can't stand country music, I instead did a story about anti-war songs, which involved listening to hours of earnest folk music so awesome it couldn't be given away for free on the Internet.
Rejected on purely ethical grounds was my three-part series on the private life of Michael Jackson, whom I met in February and immediately fell in love with, thus rendering my special investigation tainted. We are due to be wed in the spring, after my divorce from Bachelorette Trista Rehn becomes official, though he worries that my being 7 years old makes me, in his words, "a little on the old side." I have no doubt we will reconcile our differences and find a sleep number we're both happy with. We will be married in Boston and honeymoon in San Quentin. R. Kelly will be the best man and has informed us he will not be bringing a date, so could we set him up?
Earlier this summer I was due to write a piece about how Jenna Jameson has made pornography mainstream, which doesn't mitigate embarrassment when Mom and Dad's best friends borrow said porn (The Best of Up and Cummers, Philmore Butts Taking Care of Business) to "watch" on occasion of 35th wedding anniversary. (Worse only when porn doesn't return four months later; reduced now to watching Sexual Matrix on Cinemax and bootleg videotapes of '80s TV series Angie starring Donna Pescow.) Jameson recently began shooting videos for Peach, which has taken all the sex and most of the nudity out of porn; sounds vaguely like programming on E! and Fox reality shows or Maxim (note to self: renew subscription). She was supposed to call to discuss this astonishing feat of going legit while still having things shoved up her in hard-core Vivid videos, but she didn't phone at the appointed time. Finger must have been broken, or shoved up someone. Just as well: Had no questions at all, and meeting your idols is always so disappointing.