Allen Salkin is the Times' designated kitschy trend specialist and author of a book about fake holiday Festivus, which sums up his sensibility very well. When we last encountered him he was sending out email blasts looking for travel companions to the Olympics, dinner companions to a barbecue joint, and sources for a story about ukeleles. You'll be happy to know that his aggressive pursuit of ukulele players has paid off! But you've tipped your hand, Salkin. We're onto you: Salkin's story on the hot ukulele trend is out, and fits perfectly in his oeuvre. His past investigations have exposed chicks who eat meat, revealed how no one goes on vacations any more, and uncovered prepsters who hang out downtown-as well as their rival hipsters who hang out in Atlantic City. We're now prepared to reveal Salkin's journalistic method to the public: He solicits you to hang out with him in casual settings and mines you for minutiae, which he then seasons with his patented significance-inflating sauce: "I see you're no vegetarian!" "Downtown is getting so preppy." "Can you believe my dumbass roommate bought a ukulele?" Lately I've been tying my shoelaces inside the shoe, to prevent those floppy strings on the outside. Others in Brooklyn are doing the same. Call me, Allen. [NYT]