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Greg Olear Archive

Greg Olear

It’s Not the End of the World As We Know It (Although It Could Be Argued That Roland Emmerich Is One of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse)

October 25th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

How’s this for a sign?

The North American release date of 2012, the latest and hopefully last disaster picture from the same aesthetes who brought you the cinematic “Ode to a Nightingale” that is Independence Day, is Friday, November 13.

My birthday.

This is wrong for so many reasons. If 11/13 were going to be defiled, I’d rather Roland Emmerich, the “auteur” whose flick this is, just take a birthday dump on my front porch.

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Greg Olear

And Some Get Rained Out

October 13th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. —

“You win some, you lose some, and some get rained out—but you have to dress for all of ‘em.” —Satchell Paige

I remember the moment when I decided, quite deliberately, to care about baseball.

I was maybe twelve years old, I was at my grandparents’ house, and I was seized by a sudden need to avail myself of the bathroom. Then as now, I hate it when I have to do Number Two and there’s nothing to read. So I grabbed the only printed matter in the house that looked remotely appealing—the sports section of the Morristown (N.J.) Daily Record—and barricaded myself in the can.

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Greg Olear

This Is My First Novel

September 29th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

Today is the official release date of Totally Killer, my first novel.

That’s what my oh-so-brief bio leads you to believe, anyway. “This is his first novel,” it says, as if I’d suddenly decided, after floundering about for the first thirty-five years of my life, to bang out a book, and a few months later, voilà.

As Hemingway concluded in his first novel, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” (more…)


Greg Olear

A Sad Song Made Better

September 1st, 2009
by Greg Olear

ASTORIA, N.Y.-

We moved on the first of September. Left our 400-square-foot fifth-floor walk-up on East Seventh Street in Manhattan’s East Village—an apartment that cost a staggering $1,800 a month—for a bigger, cheaper, cleaner, safer one-bedroom in Astoria, the part of Queens comprising the westernmost extremity of Long Island, directly across the East River from Yorkville.

We haven’t even been here two weeks. The cable hasn’t been turned on yet. The guy from Time Warner is supposed to come tomorrow—Wednesday, September 12, 2001.

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Greg Olear

Invisible Touch

August 9th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

In which we contemplate what makes some art better than other art, using the example of two erstwhile members of the band Genesis.

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Greg Olear

Just a Cigar

July 21st, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

There are certain hobbies that, while possessed of an inherent appeal, I would never take up because the subculture attached to them so repels me.

Take golf. I enjoy whacking the little white ball—I’m pretty good on the driving range, truth be told—but I would never go so far as to play the game for the simple reason that I don’t want to spend a whole afternoon with golfers.

Marijuana is another example. Pleasant though the high may be, no amount of stonedness could hip me to hackeysack and Grateful Dead bootlegs.

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Greg Olear

A Thousand Words: Elvis, Buddy, and Me

July 7th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

In seventh grade, I was cast in the starring role in our school’s production of that timeless musical, Ducktails & Bobbysox.

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Greg Olear

One Glove

June 25th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

The Gloved One is dead.

No big surprise, given his mental and physical health, but tragic nevertheless.

I liked Michael Jackson, but I was never a rabid fan. My little brother was the one with the red jacket. But there is one moment that, in my view, represented the zenith of his career.  A moment when I jumped on the Jacko bandwagon, white glove and all.

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Greg Olear

“Off the Blog” Post-Mortem

June 15th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW YORK, NY-

I’ve been getting a lot of wish-I-was theres from TNBers in the week following the maiden Off the Blog event. Thus, as a public service to the TNB family, I have borrowed a gimmick from ESPN’s Bill Simmons and written a running diary of the events of Tuesday last.

I hope that this conveys the spirit of the evening.

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Greg Olear

Star Track

June 10th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW YORK, NY-

Note: this is an extended transcript of the blog I read at the maiden Off the Blog event in NYC on 6/9.

So it’s great to be back in New York. I lived here for ten years—the formative years of my young adulthood. Moved here at 22, single and broke; left here at 32, married with a kid. And broke.

My first professional writing job was right here in New York, with Kaplan, the test-prep company. I used to write dummy SAT questions. There were twelve of us, all huddled in the same cold room, banging out analogies and reading comprehension passages and math problems involving the speed of trains leaving Chicago.

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Greg Olear

Tweet and Lowdown

May 13th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

You’ve heard of Twitter. You either use it, have friends who use it, or you’ve read about it in snooty op-eds. It’s like heroin, in that way. That and it’s addicitive as hell.

Another way it’s like heroin: it doesn’t come with an instruction manual. You either have to have a junkie explain it to you, or you figure it out as you go. I’m not a Twitterholic, not yet, but I thought it might be beneficial to dish what I’ve learned about this odd new medium to the TNB community.

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Greg Olear

And Justice For Naught

May 4th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

This week, Justice David Souter announced his retirement, a surprise that will give President Obama the first of what we hope are many picks on the Supreme Court.

In honor of this event, I’ve dredged up a blog I wrote in November, 2000, on my now-defunct LARGEREGO cyberweekly, about George W. Bush and his then-potential appointments.  Since then, Bush placed two newcomers to the Court, shifting the bias ever-so-slightly to the right (and making mincemeat of my prediction, although I have hopes for Chief Justice Roberts, who is if nothing else brilliant).

The same logic still applies, however, so I’m running the original without edits.  I’m cheating, in other words.  Here goes: (more…)


Greg Olear

Rachel Not Getting Married, or, Weep Not, Sad Aniston

April 24th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

This past February 11, Jennifer Aniston turned forty.

I am aware of this milestone because it has been covered in the celebrity tabloids with a ferocity usually reserved for moon landings and presidential assassinations. Another week, another Aniston-over-the-hill story. This past Friday, for example, in the “Celeb Crisis” section, Life & Style did a two-page story entitled “Jen’s Struggle With Aging.”

Aniston, to the tabloids, is a tragic figure. Has been since Friends went off the air five years ago.

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Greg Olear

Quite Contrary

April 6th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

There are certain things in our culture that we assume everybody likes, probably because most people like them, myself included: the Beatles, Manhattan, George Clooney, draught beer, “Stairway to Heaven.”

There are things that most discriminating people aren’t down with that I am (Tom Cruise, Billy Joel).

Then there is the third category: things that most people like—things that cool people are supposed to like, even—that I simply don’t care for. Here, in no particular order, are some of those things:

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Greg Olear

Photogenicide

March 9th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -

Recently it has come to my attention that I’m maybe not as good-looking as I’d thought.

I used to have a pretty good idea where I fit on the whole pulchritude scale: somewhere in the middle of the pack, for sure, but closer to the George Clooney ten than the Yasser Arafat zero. I’m not handsome enough to trade on my looks, nor am I not handsome enough that my deficiencies would impede me getting the girl. My attractiveness is neither dealmaker not dealbreaker.

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Greg Olear

Thou Shalt Not Kill Thine Television: In Defense of the Boob Tube

February 26th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -

In March of 1991, I accompanied my friend Owen to a new student orientation at Wesleyan College. We were both seniors in high school. Politically, he was a progressive (hence Wesleyan), and I was a reluctant Republican (hence Georgetown).

At the orientation proper, a panel of enthusiastic students took questions from the audience. I was wondering about prosaic things like “How do you do your laundry?”, but the first question concerned the watchword of the day, diversity.

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Greg Olear

Meditations on the Most Recent Copy of “Us Weekly”

February 18th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -

Maybe once or twice a year, I find a discarded copy of Us Weekly at a doctor’s office or hair salon. Although I make it a rule never to read such tripe—I am a serious novelist, after all—I am compelled, in these rare moments, to thumb through the glossy pages, if only to turn my nose at the schlock therein.

Oh, who am I kidding. I have a subscription, OK? Every Thursday the magazine appears in my mailbox, packed with Gossip Girl gossip, guestimates on the weight of Jessica Simpson and/or Britney Spears, and a picture of Amy Winehouse looking even worse than she did the previous week, when the crack nadir seemed to be at its lowest point.

So, as the nation’s best minds concentrate on matters of great economic pitch and moment, I present the first and probably the only installment of Meditations on the Most Recent Copy of Us Weekly.

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Greg Olear

Onomastic Fantastic, or, My Mourning My Morning Jacket’s Choice of Band Name

February 9th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

I have discovered a new band. This is a big deal at my advanced age of 36. Once you leave college, your musical tastes tend to fossilize, like so many Duran Duran albums in amber. So I’m pleased with myself for branching out and giving new music a chance.

And I really like this band. The first single, “I’m Amazed,” is a straight up-and-down slow-rock anthem, with soaring harmonies and a satisfyingly thump to the drums. The second one, “Evil Urges,” is even better. The only problem with this new band is that they have one of the stupidest band names ever: My Morning Jacket.

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Greg Olear

Don’t Ask Me Why, or, Confessions of a Semi-Closeted Billy Joel Fan

January 30th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, NY -

My favorite song of all time is “Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)” by Billy Joel. The live version, the opening track on Songs from the Attic. Once in a blue moon they play it on the radio, but it’s always the slower studio incarnation, from Turnstiles, that lacks the urgency—provided by Liberty DeVito’s frenetic drumming—of the live cut.

Inspired by the famous Daily News headline (FORD TO NYC: DROP DEAD), “Miami 2017” is a science fiction piece, an imagination of the U.S. government unleashing the dogs of war on the Big Apple. It is a eulogy of New York City, a prescient piece of writing orders of magnitude superior to the maudlin “New York State of Mind” they play when the Mets win. Almost always, it gives me chills.

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Greg Olear

Obama and the Generation X Factor

January 26th, 2009
by Greg Olear

NEW PALTZ, N.Y.-

Much attention has been paid to Barack Obama becoming the first African-American president, and rightly so. But the Obama campaign is historic in another way, too.  On January 20, Obama, at age 46, became the country’s first Gen-X president.
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