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March 14, 2005

A Repost So Old It's Effectively New: The Dowd-O-Matic!

[Pardon the use of the royal "we." My old schtick was that this was a lavishly-funded 644-man operation.]

How does she does it? How does Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, the Doyenne of Ditz, produce one thought-provoking, cogently-argued column after another?

We've all wondered. All of us, every one of us, has pondered the very impossibilty of the Ms. Dowd's consistently high-quality analytical output. (Or "Money" Dowd, as we call her. As in, "That lady is nothing but money!!")

We're sure that you, just as we, have wished for the ability to write as smartly as Ms. Dowd. But that, surely, would be impossible.

Or... would it?


By subjecting all of Ms. Dowd's oeuvre (that's a French literary term meaning "soft eggs") to rigorous computerized statistical and etymological analysis, we at Ace of Spades HQ have determined that each of Ms. Dowd's brilliant columns follows a pattern.

By identifying the contours and parameters of this pattern, we have discovered that each one of Ms. Dowd's Pulitzer-Prizing columns contains precisely four (4) "seeds," each seed selected from a menu of twelve (12), and only twelve (12), possibilities.

The first seed is a Slapdash Reference to Current Political Events. These vary over time, but we've been able to positively identify the only twelve current political subjects discussed by Ms. Dowd over the past four years.

The second seed is a Strained Connection to Some "Hot" Pop Culture Trend Such "hot" pop culture trends are chiefly visible (if at all) in the tony urban neighborhoods Dowd frequents. Often these "hot" pop culture trends are simply determined by whatever was on HBO Signature last night. Sometimes they're not even real trends at all, but rather hoaxes invented by harried magazine writers on a deadline (i.e., "metrosexuality," the fad that's positively sweeping the world).

The third seed is an Equally Strained Connection to Some Retro Trend Half-Remembered From Dowd's Increasingly-Distant Youth. Simple enough. Do you remember the 80's? Ms. Dowd doesn't. Set the wayback machine to the Age of Elvis for this one.

Finally, all columns require a fourth seed, which is not a topic but rather an attitude or tone -- or, perhaps more accurately, a Posture or Pose -- which superficially unites the three other story-seeds.

To generate your own Maureen Dowd column, simply roll a twelve-sided die (or "d12") four times, consulting one of the following tables per roll. If you don't have a twelve-sided die (and really, if you don't, don't you think it's about time you considered investing in one? ), you can draw cards from a standard deck, treating aces through tens as numbers 1 through 10, Jacks as 11's, and Queens as 12's. Ignore all Kings and Jokers.

Table 1: Slapdash Reference to Current Political Events

1. John Ashcroft
2. John Ashcroft's Prayer Sessions
3. Saddam Hussein (BONUS: Connect Hussein's disheveled appearance at his capture to some recent fashion disaster seen at a Hollywood awards presentation)
4. Dick Cheney
5. Dick Cheney and Halliburton
6. Dick Cheney's "Undisclosed Location"
7. Don Rumsfeld
8. Paul Wolfowitz
9. President Bush
10. The Bush Twins
11. The Bush Extended Family (BONUS: Be sure to refer to Bush Senior as "Pappy" or "Pop-Pop")
12. The Bush Family's "Bizness" and Mob-War with Saddam Hussein (BONUS: Refer to James Baker as consiglierte)

Table 2: Strained Connection to a "Hot" Pop Culture Topic

1: Metrosexuality
2: Lesbian chic ("chick on chick chic")
3: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy
4: Queer as Folk (Consult your Showtime Viewer Guide for air times)
5: Will & Grace
6: Sex & the City
7: "Where Have All the Male Television Viewers Gone? (And Isn't it Just Wonderful That They Have Gone? More Sex & the City For Us Alpha Girls!") [Cf. Number 8, infra]
8: "Alpha Girls"/Grrrl Power
9: The Sopranos (Connection to the Godfather saga obligatory)
10: Carnivale
11: Rich Girls/The Simple Life/"Isn't it a Crushing Burden to be Hot, Rich, Famous and Fabulous Like Me?"
12: Reality TV (BONUS: Try to work in the gag-line, "I'm a Feminist! Get Me Out of Here!")

Table 3: Equally Strained Connection to Some Retro Trend Half-Remembered From Dowd's Increasingly-Distant Youth
1. Saddle-Shoes
2. Mood Rings (BONUS: Be sure to connect to Color-Coded Terror- Alert System)
3. Hula-Hoops
4. Poodle-Skirts
5. Rosemary's Baby
6. Donna Reed
7. The Stepford Wives
8. Light Petting
9. "Necking"
10. Plato's Retreat
11. "Hef" and the Mansion
12. "I once hot-tubbed with David Crosby, Joan Didion, and Dr. Benjamin Spock"

Table 4: Attitude/Tone/Posture/Pose
1. Chatty
2. Catty
3. Ditzy
4. Schiz-y
5. Cutesy
6. "Kooky"
7. Girly
8. Dirty
9. Flirty
10. Shrieking
11. Freaking
12. "Make the Bad Men Threatening Us, and Especially As the Equally Bad Men Protecting Us, Go Away Already!!"




"Don't hate me because I'm vapid!"



Once you've generated all four seeds, write your column! Don't worry about smooth transitions or even logical connections between topics-- Ms. Dowd doesn't!

And then just sit back and wait for that tasty Pulitzer money to start rolling in!

UPDATE: We didn't even bother to read Ms. Dowd's current column before writing this; we merely picked up, from other bloggers, that it discordantly mixed some petulant Bush-bashing with some panting lesbian-boosting.

So we were pleasantly surprised to find that Money Dowd came through for us, yet again:

Showtime has a vampy new program about lesbians in L.A. called "The L Word."

Well, dear. Of course Showtime does.

Some columnists get criticized for relying too much on Lexis/Nexis. But what do you say about someone whose primary research tool is a TiVo?

We here at the Ace of Spades Symposium for Cultural Studies watch an awful lot of TV, too. Not as much as Ms. Dowd, it seems, but plenty.

Pulitzer us!

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posted by Ace at 03:23 PM

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