Thursday, September 28, 2006

Ugly Betty and the Amazing Right-Brain File

My television issues

Those of you who know me well are aware that I have a bit of an a-tee-tude about television. Aside from Project Runway, I'm not really into it, have a pronounced aversion to legal and crime dramas (or "legal" and "crime" dramas as I think of them), and really loathe CNN and other pseudo-"news" programs, especially when I they are broadcast at top volume in airports to crowds of slack-jawed, gullible people. Hmm, I guess that's a lot of a-tee-tude.

But today I am changing. I am opening up the dikes to mass media. I'm letting pop culture flow into my Upper West Side classic-five. Because it's the premier of Ugly Betty!

Ugly Betty rules!

Ugly Betty is a show with America Ferrera (last seen in Real Women Have Curves, Spanglish and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants .... yes, I saw it) playing a dorkster from Queens named Betty, who works in a Vogue-type place in Manhattan. Come to think of it, this Devil Wears Prada business is EVERYWHERE this year. And I just got back from Milan -- more on that later. Coincidence? I think not.

Ugly Betty is based on a fabulously successful Colombian telenovela called Yo Soy Betty La Fea and I can't wait for it to get started. There's a great photo of the actress in today's New York Times on the front page of the arts section, where she is undergoing a beauty treatment, Betty La Fea style -- she's wearing plastic-framed glasses, gigantic curlers in her hair and a flowery red and pink robe that looks like it's made of oilcloth. The walls of the salon are hospital green and in the background a red teddy bear decorates the counter among stacks of combs, brushes and vials of nail polish. Love it!

(Ignore, however, the pointless review by tiresome film critic Virginia Heffernan. A sample sentence: "Commedia characterization on pseudorealist television can be exhausting: just as not every rich person has to wear an ascot, not every provincial girl has to dress like a mental patient." Just give it a rest, girl!)

Into the Right-Brain File

This is the kind of article that goes RIGHT IN my right-brain file. What's a right-brain file, you ask? A right-brain file is a file of stuff that for whatever reason triggers your interest. In anything. It could be a news event, an article about a person, an ad for something, a travel brochure, an announcement of a lecture, some barely legible scrawled note you made after a revealing dream, whatever.

Building a right-brain file is a great way to figure out what you really want to do with your life, now or in the future. Creating a right-brain file is based on the truth that finding your true interests is rarely a logical process. Thinking about things harder rarely works. And insights rarely come announced as such. As Herminia Ibarra writes in her must-read book, Working Identity, many visions start out as a tingle, an inkling, a wondering, a twinge of interest. Not as fully cooked, or fully convincing, ideas. The right-brain file is a great way to let these various idea-ettes develop at their own speed.

The trick is to cut out the article (or whatever), toss it in the file, and NOT think about it. That's it. You do the analysis later. At some point, you can go back, sift through, and ask yourself, "what does all this say about me?" It's like making compost. You throw in a bunch of stuff, wait a few months, and then one day your kitchen scraps have been magically transformed into something fertile.

Today, a bonanza of right-brain inspiration!

I am motivated to write this post today because today the first arts page of the New York Times has THREE articles that ALL must go into my own personal right-brain file. One is the aforesaid mention (with glam photo) from Ugly Betty. The second is an article about how Sacha Baron Cohen's new movie about Barot the purported Kazakh is playing in Kazakhstan. The third is a story about Shondra Rhimes, the show runner for Grey's Anatomy. (Another show that makes it through my a-tee-tude, anti-TV screen.)

What do all these things mean? Who knows? Tossing the articles into the right-brain file is all the work I need to do today. Besides watching the premier of Ugly Betty!