WaPo pundit contest

October 24th, 2010 | Uncategorized

mom &hol at MWP

Just got back from a trip to NYC. Here’s Holly and my Mom in the mezzanine at the intermission of Mrs. Warren’s Profession starring the illustrious Cherry Jones. As I was snapping this pic, an usher shouted across the room, “Camera guy! Stop taking pictures!”

And check it! My pal Nancy Goldstein has made it to the final round of the Washington Post America’s Next Great Pundit contest. The next step is the crucial popular-vote stage. Check out some of her work here. I’m particularly fond of her take on Virginia Thomas’s recent manic episode.

Now she goes head to head with 3 other finalists (out of an initial field of 1400) in the Q&A round, which takes the form of a live discussion with WaPo readers this Monday (10/25) at noon…

I’ll try to update with details on how to vote Monday. The grand prize is a 3-month opinion columnist contract with the Post.

44 Responses to “WaPo pundit contest”

  1. ksbel6 says:

    Sweet…let us know how it goes!

  2. Ian says:

    I liked her take on the Virginia Thomas issue.

    Good luck to Nancy Goldstein!

    PS Nice to have a new update. Glad you had fun in NYC, AB.

  3. Ruth in RI says:

    You’re my favorite camera guy.

  4. Therry and St. Jerome says:

    Her commenters were right though — it could have been shorter and punchier.

  5. monz says:

    “camera guy! stop taking pictures!” Ahahahahhahahaaa, that made me laugh so hard!

  6. Andrew says:

    Oy. Yeah, no shortage of rude ushers in our theaters. Sorry about that.

  7. I had the chance to briefly meet Nancy Goldstein at Netroots Nation in Austin — strong and brilliant personality, we need her voice.

    One of the commenters at her Virginia Thomas post tried to refloat a distortion about Thomas’s actions, that it was an “attempt at conciliation”. Waal, no. Repeating accusations and demanding apology is not attempting conciliation, except in Republican-world where they are always 100% right and the wounded party. I suspect the percentage of people who think Clarence Thomas was unfairly charged roughly matches those who don’t see Dubya’s presidency as an unmitigated disaster or who believe Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.

    It is hard work to stay that ignorant, and it’s not blissful because the rest of us just won’t shut up and play along (outside their churches, charter schools, and chambers of Congress). I agree with Goldstein that looking at the timing of this bizarre action would be fruitful. What provoked Ms. Thomas into joining the news cycle and raking it all back up? Distraction seems very plausible. I’ve heard rumors that Justice Thomas is considering resigning and running for office (please, PLEASE), or it may just be that a toxic marriage is starting to come undone at the seams. Hiking for pubic hairs along the Appalachian Trail?

  8. grrljock says:

    Oh, Maggie Jochild #7. With that last line you won MY vote to be a pundit at WaPo!

  9. NLC says:

    A tangent for this wet, wet, wet day:

    Above, in #7, MagJo obliquely refers to the old saying that “ignorance is bliss”.

    If I can be forgiven a bit of background here (because I’m feeling grumpy and pessimistic today). This saying is one of my favorite examples of what some folks have called a “semiquote”. That is, the quote is technically correct, in that the words are accurate, but it is usually used so far out of context as to be radically different from the original, intended meaning.

    In this case, the full quote is:
    “Where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.”[1]

    All that said, in the current context, in a world of Sarah Palins and Tea Party enthusiasts, it’s hard not to be struck by the irony.

    [1 From Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.. (1742)]

  10. Ian says:

    @NLC(9): Thanks for posting that NLC. I never knew where the quote came from. I always assumed it was a Biblical proverb.

  11. ready2agitate says:

    Woa – great column – what’s the verdict? (other than that she’s smart, witty, and cute). (I love me some smart, witty, radical, sassy, pundits!)

  12. Acilius says:

    Considering that Mrs Thomas left her message at 7:30 on a Saturday morning, I think that the simplest explanation for her decision to call Professor Hill would involve alcohol.

  13. Fester Bestertester says:

    Someone suggested the other day that what happened was that Mrs Thomas had accidentally pressed re-dial….

  14. hairball_of_hope says:

    re: Virginia Thomas

    Hmmm… I like the distraction theory, particularly since Thomas called on a Saturday morning, which means it might have made it onto the Sunday morning talking head news shows, had Prof. Hill reported it immediately. But how can anyone assume that the good professor would be picking up her office voicemail over a weekend?

    7:30AM on a Saturday morning seems awfully early to be making this sort of call, unless Virginia Thomas was up all night thinking about this. Certainly, she called at a time where she could be reasonably sure that Anita Hill would not be answering her phone. A true reconciliation attempt would have been made when they could actually speak to one another.

    I think Maggie wins the prize for the “hiking for pubic hairs along the Appalachian Trail” line. Beware of Coke cans in the App Trail lean-tos.

    (… goes back to hiking along Broadway …)

  15. hairball_of_hope says:

    You know what’s been missing from this blog lately?

    Uh huh… BACON.

    Nicely segueing from Virginia Thomas’ chutzpah, comes this revelation about Baconnaise and Bacon Salt, two bacon-flavored foods that we’ve previously discussed: They are KOSHER. No s#^t.


    Quoting from the J&D Foods page about kashrut certification:

    Yes, there are rabbis out there with enough chutzpah to certify our products as kosher. If you keep kosher, the good news is that all of J&D’s products are Kosher certified.

    And it goes on to list the specific authorities and certifications of their products.

    One of their products really outdoes itself for bacon-flavored insanity: MMMVELOPES. Yup, envelopes with bacon-flavored glue. Now if the post office came out with that glue on their stamps, they wouldn’t be in their current financial hole, lots of folks would gladly lick stamps to pay their bills. “Who needs online bill pay when we’ve got bacon-flavored stamps?”

    (… goes back to the amazing Internet, where there’s apparently something for everyone …)

  16. hairball_of_hope says:

    Ok, now I need to get a rant out of my system….

    Another episode of “Life in the Cube Farm.”

    It’s that time of year where we are getting project tasks and deadlines which carry over into the new year. But what to write these deadlines on? A calendar, of course. Except of course, thanks to our top-heavy corporate profligacy, where the dopes at the top of the foodchain get bonuses and the peons in the trenches have no budget for office supplies, we also have no budget for calendars.

    Ah, but we’re engineers and tech specialists, we know how to make things work.

    So we rolled our own. We hoard copier paper, but we have no shortage of engineering-size paper for the DesignJets. N.B. DesignJets are large-format printers used to create engineering drawings, blueprints, etc. (3 feet by 4 feet is a pretty typical size). We also have engineering paper on a roll for the DJ, so we can create any length drawing by 4 feet wide.

    Four of us, making anywhere from $40-50/hr, spent six hours designing and printing calendars today. My job was to get all the important Jewish holidays on the calendars. The Chinese engineer put the Lunar New Year on them, and someone else researched and put all the Federal and secular holidays on them.

    We made multiple formats of the calendars, all in color. Weekends are blue (freedom), holidays are red (no work), paydays are green (money), workdays are yellow. We were going to put religious symbols on the religious holidays, but we figured we might offend someone with that, so we made them hot pink. We printed them on the paper roll, then cut them up on the paper cutter.

    Now we have 6-foot long timeline calendars, blotter-sized desk calendars, and even 8.5″ x 11″ wall calendars.

    Tomorrow we’re going to design some pocket-sized weekly planners. That’s a little trickier, because they have to be printed two-sided with the right days facing each other, but they are printed like books, with leaves, and saddle-stapled in the middle. But hey, that’s why we got them fancy degrees, to figure out stuff like this. We’re doing it in Excel. Bill Gates would love it.

    I’m guessing we spent about $1500 on labor and material today making what would have been $100 worth of calendars. So glad we saved all that money so the exalted ones at the top of the foodchain can claim their bonuses.

    I think about that as I stare at the wonderful color blotter-sized calendar on my desk.

    (… goes back to calculating the price of color ink and color toner, on par with Beluga caviar and Dom Perignon …)

  17. ksbel6 says:

    @hoh: I absolutely love that.

  18. What ksbel6 said. Plus I covet that large printer.

  19. Cheryl says:

    my mother and Alison’s mother are contemporaries in our small home county. I am sincere in saying I think she looks good. I hope that is not so offensive to be deleted again.

  20. ksbel6 says:

    @hoh: We in education do the exact opposite of what you guys in Cubeville do…no one is receiving any big bonus check…and we calculate what they pay us per hour in order to see who is getting the LEAST amount. Like, I am paid a set stipend for coaching softball (pretty close to $4000 for a 2 month regular season). We play in a state tournament playoff system that mirrors that of NCAA sports…once you lose, you are finished. So, if I’m bad at my job, and my team loses in the first round, I make about $6 per hour (counting everything I need to do for softball). But, if my team keeps winning, we keep practicing and taking longer and longer trips including a couple of stays in hotels. When we make it to the finar four, my salary drops to about $3 per hour (because it literally doubles the amount of time I have to spend on softball to play that extra month). Good high school coaches are volunteers. Bad ones gets paid.

  21. cybercita says:

    I saw MWP a couple of weeks ago. Did you enjoy it? I love Shaw but confess to not really liking Cherry Jones’ acting all that much. She was kind of blank and blustery in this one, I thought. {I realize I’m in the minority here… the NYC critics LOVE her, and I’ve never understood why. Seen her in tons of stuff over the years and she always leaves me cold.}

  22. Sara says:

    squee!! You’re coming to RIT! I don’t think I’ve seen you give a talk since like 1990 or something – though I still have a coffee mug and t-shirt 😉

  23. Happy birthday, ksbel6! Hope it continues to be a championship year.

  24. Xena Fan says:

    Camera Guy (aka Alison), Did you rip you top open and say “I AM A CAMERA WOMAN!”?

  25. Andi says:

    Hi All,

    Thanks for your kind comments after I talked about losing all my books (and everything else I owned) in the Four Mile Canyon Fire here in Colorado.

    I’ve put up my post-fire writing on a blog – my first – blog, that is, and first public writing as well.

    You can find it at


    Yep, it’s called Burning Down the House. [chuckles darkly]

    Would love to hear what you think. Many thanks again for your kind words and good thoughts during this crazy time.

    – Andi

  26. Acilius says:

    @Andi: I like it. Pet Nellie the dog for me!

  27. Hey, to vote for Nancy Goldstein as the next great pundit at WaPo, go to the link below (deadline today) and vote to cast out anybody BUT her. Let’s make this happen, folks!


  28. Feminista says:

    @16: There was no joy in Cubesville: mighty CEO has struck out.

  29. Kate L says:

    I have just arrived at Smallville City Library from a meeting of the city Human Rights Advisory Board over at the palatial Smallville city hall. They were considering recommending to the city commission adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the city human rights ordinance. I did’nt feel well all day (I feel like I’m that bright young woman from MoveOn.org, and that the world has been doing the old-fashion Kentucky head stomp on me), but I was there to be part of the local LGBT community in support of the recommendation. And, it passed, on a 5 to 1 vote. The man who was the one “nay” vote circulated a document among the Board members entitled, “The Evils of the Gay Lifestyle”, so you can imagine what he had to say. Midway through his rant, I felt like jumping out of my chair, ripping off my top and shouting, “I AM CameraWoman!!!”

  30. Andi says:

    26. Acilius. Nellie has now received your pets, and is wagging! Isn’t she the cutest? She is a very cat-like dog, which you can see in her pix.

  31. Ellen Orleans says:

    Andi — I hadn’t know you’d started a blog. It’s very powerful. And honest, funny, and heart-breaking. Next year, perhaps you’d like to read parts of it at a Yellow Pine reading?

    I gather you are already flooded with people who want to help out, but add me to the list anyway.

  32. hairball_of_hope says:


    Wow. Your open and honest writing is awe-inspiring. I gathered that you were on vacation when the fire hit, and didn’t also face the trauma of evacuation (flip-side to that is you didn’t grab all the seemingly important items one would normally have in an evacuation go-bag, save the unusual decision of taking your birth certificate with you when traveling).

    What I can’t even fathom is how you are going through the fire recovery process for the second time in your life. Unreal.

    I read through your blog posts early yesterday morning, right before a series of very contentious meetings at work. I was able to remain amazingly calm and detached from the fray because I had the perspective fresh in my mind of what you are dealing with.

    The phrase bandied about in one meeting, directed at every person who had technical, budget, and personnel problems that were being used as excuses was, “So? What’s your plan?” Don’t tell me how you got here, tell me how you’re going to fix it.

    It occurred to me that your writings had not one iota of blaming others for your situation, nor passivity and expectation that someone else would take care of things for you. You seem to have the “What’s your plan?” mantra working for you.

    Hang in there. Add me to the list of folks who are pulling for you.

  33. judybusy says:

    WAY TO GO, Kate, and the rest of the activists! That takes such guts, espeically with the tendency of the opposers to be so….fanatical. Great news to begin the day. Now, off to my evil gay agenda: get ready for work, chiro appt., work, dog park, more work, make dinner. I feel like cackling!

  34. Andi says:

    Thanks Ellen and hoh,

    Hoh, I’m so glad reading the blog helped you get through the day. That’s very much the reason I decided to make this private writing public; to help others. People who have been reading tell me that it helps them just get through their daily challenges, whether or not they’re dealing with great loss or catastrophe at the moment. That is so rewarding. There are so many people helping me right now that it feels good to give – to keep passing along the love and support and keep the circle going. Otherwise, I fear I might sink into that place of Victim and just take, take, take…. Contributing helps me stay in touch with the Benevolence of the universe.

    Ellen, thanks for the invite to read at Yellow Pine. How will I ever keep it to two minutes?! And thanks for your offer of help. Maybe I’ll see you at the potluck tonight?

    You’re right Hoh, I am not blaming anyone (Hm, blame Nature for Fire?) but I am really angry about the Whole Thing. It is oddly empowering, focusing, and exhausting – all at the same time. I’m just trying to roll with it and get through each day as best I can. As are we all, yes?

    Thanks also to JudyBusy for commenting on the site. It is so nice to have you pulling for me – I feel your love and support. It makes a difference. Truly.

    Sending hugs out over the airwaves,


  35. Pam I. says:

    Nancy Goldstein is still in the running. Next round on Monday.

  36. Ellen Orleans says:

    @Andi — Oh, I was thinking more about a 15-minute reading slot when Yellow Pine resumes in Fall 2011. We can talk more as the months roll by.

    And not on Alison’s site!

    (Sorry Alison! Hope the writing/drawing/editing/redrawing is going well.)

    Anyway, I’m on Facebook and at ellen[dot]orleans[at]gmail.com if you want to chat more.

  37. j.b.t. says:

    I’m feeling nervous about the upcoming election and wishing so much to read what Mo and the gang would be saying about it. How old would J.R. be now? If Alison ever goes back to DTWOF (oh please oh please oh pleeeease – even just a glimpse?)will she keep it real time instead of picking up where it left off?

  38. Olivia says:

    Kudos to Betty White!
    She’s my kind of woman!!!
    I love everyone and I don’t care who they are or what their sexual preference is or who they worship.
    I think that’s the way it should be. Plain and simple.
    We are supposed to love our fellow man and that’s what I try to do each and every day.

  39. Mentor says:

    [For those who are in the neighborhood (and who may not have seen the announcement) just a reminder that AB will speaking at the University of Iowa this Fri (5Nov). (For more details, see the Events page.) –Mentor]

  40. A follow-up to Pam I’s reminder: I just voted for Nancy Goldstein in the final round of the contest to see who becomes America’s Next Great Pundit at the Washington Post. Today is the last day to vote.

  41. Ian says:

    Empire Magazine publishes the first pictures from Spielberg and Jackson’s Tintin movie, due out next year I think.

    Looks like they’re sticking fairly closely to the visuals from the books. I’m really looking forward to it.

  42. Calico says:

    Tintin et Milou! And hopefully *hic* Captain Haddock!
    Looks like fun.
    Did you know that in French, Thomson and Thompson are named Dupond and Dupont? Funny stuff.

  43. John says:

    Oh well, if you’re told to do anything as “Camera guy” you obviously don’t have to take any notice at all.

    Shoulda been sketching, though.