Another advice column hits the Times!


They at the Times want to serve us:
Somehow, we'd managed to miss the debut of the New York Times' latest advice column.

The Times has two such columns in the Sunday magazine—an ethics advice column by Professor Appiah, the Dear Abby of ethics advice, and a spoof advice column by "Dr. John Hodgman," who is either a comedian or a humorist, depending on what source you check.

(By general agreement, a "humorist" is a comedian whose audience isn't drunk.)

Well sir, the Times has also started a weekly advice column in the Thursday Styles section. The column is authored by Cheryl Strayed, "an American memoirist, novelist, essayist and podcast host," and by Steve Almond, "an American short-story writer, essayist and author of ten books." The column seems to have started in July.

The new advice column is called The Sweet Spot; Almond and Strayed are referred to as the Sugars. This begins to suggest a tie between the new advice column and the motto of the amazingly dumb new daily format the Times unveiled this summer for pages A2 and A3:
You are the dumbest people on earth.
We at the Times want to serve you.
Is the new advice column part of an overall dumbing-down, in which the Times is eager to show its willingness to meet us on our own level? We couldn't help wondering when we read the sexy-time letter which occasioned today's advice.

Yay yay yay yay yay yay yay! Be sure to note the dumber-than-dumb way the sexy-time letter is addressed:
I Love My Fiancé, but Am Totally Crushing on a Co-Worker

Dear Sugars,

I am a 26-year-old woman and recently engaged.
I struggle with anxiety and so I figure being anxious about my engagement is to be expected, right? My fiancé and I met at work. I'm a server at a restaurant, and he was the manager (he's since moved on to another job). We kept our relationship a secret at first. It was romantic, thrilling, passionate and hot. We'd stay up all night drinking whiskey and smoking cigarettes. Once we became a couple, we started prioritizing our goals. We eventually moved in together, and our life now revolves around saving money for a house and future family. I'm still in love with him, but there's definitely less sex. Though I couldn't bear to be without him, I also feel more platonic for him than I used to. Is that normal?

A new guy was hired at the restaurant recently, and I'm attracted to him and we flirt. He's the bad-boy type. He asked me to get a drink and I declined, but I told him I had a crush on him. He seemed shocked and thanked me for telling him. Now I'm embarrassed. If I pursued him and my fiancé found out, I'd deeply regret it. I fear I'm going to sabotage my relationship. I've realized this co-worker is a symbol of the lust and passion I don't have anymore. I know I have to move forward, but I miss the past. I'm scared of starting this part of my adult life.

Anxious Fiancée
Yum, but also yay! "Anxious Fiancee" wants to get it on with the new bad-boy type at work! She's asking the Sugars to help!

Is this new column a deliberate part of a general dumbing-down? We decided it was when we read the first sentence of each savant's initial reply to this seeker of good sound advice, who may or may not exist:
Steve Almond: You can do the math here, Anxious.


Cheryl Strayed: Steve's right that so much of answering this question has to do with figuring out how strongly you feel the sense of loss you describe, Anxious.
Each of the "Sugars" knew enough to nick-name the writer as "Anxious." We suspected that we were looking at a corporate pattern right there.

In theory, it shouldn't matter if a newspaper dumbs two of its first three pages down, then litters its various sections with further tributes to the time-honored gods of The Dumb.

In theory, it shouldn't matter. In practice, given our failing discourse, we feel fairly sure that it does.


  1. Bob acts as if he's just discovered style sections, relationship advice, gossip columns, and slanted journalism. Maybe he should do some research on newspapers through the decades, and get back with us. When exactly was that golden age of wise newspaperdom from which we have fallen so far?

  2. Brilliant. Sounds like this new column will be a goldmine: perfect for the drug-pushing business. Anxious? Take a pill, be happy.

    1. Spoken like a true conservative entrepreneur, always on the outlook for a new business opportunity. Sort of like Trump and his family. We wish you success in your new venture, Mao.

  3. If Somerby thinks he is going to eliminate sexy time fun from all venues, he is really becoming an old curmudgeon.

  4. But why exactly is it so dumb to care about relationships? Since women generally care more about relationships than men, is Somerby calling women dumb too? Or is he just suggesting that women's concerns have no place in a serious newspaper (that presumably reports lots of sports on other pages).

    Does Somerby realize that he is not compelled to read every word printed in every issue and that not all of it is aimed at him, personally? I have no interest in dogs or cats, but presumably they report the American Kennel Club results. That has to stop!!!!!! So dumb!!!!

    1. Maybe he thinks two advice columns is fine but three is too many.

  5. At least the Times, to its credit or blame, does not have a comics section, and no daily horoscope as far as I can tell.

    1. And yet they eliminated their bridge column recently, to much outcry from bridge players. Why?

    2. I recall when the Times started the bridge column. It was around 1962. They had big ads in the NYC subways showing a particular hand and asking what one would big on it.

  6. In my youth, there was a newspaper of the same name that was excellent -- probably the finest newspaper in the country. Today's New York Times capitalizes on the coincidence of having that famous name while providing news and opinion coverage of a tabloid.

    1. The finest newspaper of your youth was always the Christian Science Monitor.

  7. The Sugars need to tell Anxious and others about the spell caster posts on The Daily Howler.

  8. That letter is yet more evidence of the pressing need for WHITE SHARIA!

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