Two good Easter Sunday reads

Here are three pieces that have entertained the heck out of me in the last 24 hours:

The Washington Post’s Tom Shales has a great piece on Ryan Seacrest. It’s half-admiring, half… I don’t know. Stunned? Troubled? Mocking? Basically, Shales shows that Seacrest is actually a human machine, interested only in relationships that further his image. Asked about romance, he talks about wanting to hook up with Coca Cola. He admits to honing his image so that he’s absolutely innocuous and absolutely in a perfect position to be this generations Dick Clark, Larry King, and Merv Griffin. Example:

The face is profitably inescapable, too; Seacrest popped up the other day in a toothpaste commercial, yet another source of income feeding into the Ryan Empire. “I choose the products very, very strategically,” he says. “That toothpaste is a Procter & Gamble product, and I want to have a relationship with Procter & Gamble because they have so many different products. We have inventory in this new syndicated radio show that I’m going to launch and I’d like to sell some of that back to P&G directly.”

For his part, Cowell has compared Seacrest to a yappy little Chihuahua. Every now and then, Cowell told an interviewer, you have to shout or shriek at the dog and swat it off your lap. The analogy might be cute, but it’s lopsided. Ryan Seacrest is the one with the world in his lap, and if anyone does the swatting, it will likely be he.

Beyond some fascination with how Shales frames all of this — keeping a mocking tone throughout — I’m fascinated by how easily Seacrest talks about how he’s made himself into an empire — an empire selling, at its core, an empty, average product that, because of its emptiness and averageness, appeals to millions. Fascinating. Who’s read The Fountainhead? (Link via ALOTTFMA and Largehearted Boy, I think, and… I know I saw this somewhere else, too).

Another one from the Washington Post: The Second Annual Peeps Diorama Contest has come to a close. I like the winner, but my favorite is actually #31 in the slideshow: a peep reenactment of Marion Berry’s arrest called “The Peep Set Me Up.” The Pop (Peep) Art diorama is pretty impressive, too. Again, via ALOTTFMA.

Beyond that, I’m spending the day grading papers and reading short stories from Dashiel Hammett’s collection, The Continental Op. My favorite quote from today is from the Con Op himself, after a woman has asked if he’ll buy her a little drink:  “The face she made at me was probably meant for a smile.  Whatever it was, it beat me.  I was afraid she’d do it again.  I surrendered.”

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