Former First Twins Barbara and Jenna Bush turn 28 today. Actor/economist/ex-game show host Ben Stein is turning 65. New York Times columnist Gail Collins is turning 64. Jill Hennessy is 41. Christina Applegate is turning 38. Actor John Larroquette is 62. Pop/gospel singer Amy Grant is 49. Philadelphia Eagles star Donovan McNabb turns 33. Famed choreographer Trisha Brown is turning 73. Soul legend Percy Sledge is 69. And competitive eater (and hot dog eating champion) Joey Chestnut turns 26 today.
The other day, professional gaffe machine and Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell accidentally leaned into an open mic and said, regarding Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano's appointment to head the Department of Homeland Security, "Janet's perfect for the job, because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19, 20 hours a day to it." Uh oh! Big mistake, Ed. You are guilty of singleism. Campbell Brown and Gail Collins are not happy!
Barbara and Jenna Bush are celebrating their last birthdays as First Daughters: The twins turn 27 today. Christina Applegate is 37. Actor John Larroquette is 61. Pop/gospel singer Amy Grant is 48. Fantasy Island's Ricardo Montalban is 88. Actor/pundit Ben Stein is 64. New York Times columnist Gail Collins is turning 63. Famed choreographer Tricia Brown is 72. And hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut is 25 today.
Every Thursday and Saturday, I have the same nightmare. When I wake up in the morning to read the Times on those days, the dream is made real...all over the op-ed page. Her name is Gail Collins. Once the paper's editorial page director, she now writes twice a week, and when those days come around, I'd rather listen to Thomas Friedman say "flat" 800 times than read a single word she writes. Today she has topped herself with the most banal column in the history of the op-ed genre. Don't believe me? The close is "Time for a change." Experience the worst:Collins' reign over the Times op-ed page until the end of 2006 wasn't altogether a hapless one - she brought along a number of popular columnists. (She did move Frank Rich to the op-ed page, where the best columnist on the paper got a larger platform.) We can't personally testify to any of her editing abilities, but she must have been one hell of a re-writer to have stayed with the paper this long as a weekly writer. She makes Maureen Dowd's column ideas look unique and original. The only advantage she has on Maureen is that she's not a racist (probably). The theme of today's opus is on her impatience for Barack Obama to replace George W. Bush. Thanks, Gail — you've taken what we're all thinking, albeit weeks ago, and somehow turned that into a column. A long column. A column that actually contains the words, "Can I see a show of hands? How many people want George W. out and Barack in?" More boring than outright bad, here's the kind of high level thinking that Gail makes you do:
As the recollections of late hotelier Leona Helmsley start pouring in, the New York Post does its best to illustrate the impenetrable nature of her character in the form of an unintentional point-counterpoint between columnists Andrea Peyser and Cindy Adams. The issue in question? How Leona felt about the gays.
Guess what? The New York Times is super proud of TimesSelect, that whopping success for which 218,000 (hey, that's .0007% of the U.S. population! Uh, if our math is good!) have signed up. We know this because they're trotting out Editorial Page Editor Andy Rosenthal to do a dog and pony show in today's Observer. Andy is beaming about the assload of contributors he's signed up to offer web-only content (Stanley Fish, Will Leitch, the dude who played guitar for former Bad Company lead singer Paul Rodgers during the recent Queen reunion tour). And blogs? They've got TONS of blogs! They've got blogs about blogs!
So Gail Collins, the first double-x chromosomed human to head up the NYTs editorial page, will be stepping down at the end of the year. She's gonna do the typical "book leave" thing and then return to the "nice lady" column slot previously inhabited by Anna Quindlen. (We're all for the idea of having two female op-ed columnists in the Times, if only to reduce the general feeling of dickishness induced by John Tierney.) Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., described her tenure thusly: