Not the One about Abstinence

This was going to be an Andy Warholish entry about how boring we can be at Stereophile. Elizabeth's idea, actually; not mine.

Just before lunch, John Atkinson came around and asked, "So, what's the blog going to be about today?"
I looked up from an equipment report to offer a half-smile and a shrug: "I don't know."
"Nothing's happened today?"

Now, it never seems like a good idea to agree with your boss when he throws a question like this out there, so I dodged: "Oh, things have happened."

John waited for me to continue.
I smiled.
He smiled.
And then I kinda just muttered something that meant absolutely nothing, and stuck my face back into the equipment report, red pen — Paper Mate Med. Pt. — in hand, poised and ready for intense action. Watch out, you sneaky little naughty apostrophes: Here I come.


Of all the great pieces of advice John Atkinson has given me, there's one that really stands out. It's not the one about bass players, it's not the one about beer, it's not the one about abstinence. Though these are all noteworthy — and will perhaps find their merry little ways into other blog entries — the one piece of advice that I really never leave home without is the one that simply goes:

Do doingfully.

Do doingfully: two small words — one of which isn't even real (JA: I bet you thought I didn't know) — that, when put together, can make all the difference in the world.

I had this in mind when I discovered our 2006 Buyer's Guide in the magazine storage room, a little carpeted space beside our makeshift kitchen — I often wonder how the microwaves affect the glossy pages. It can't be good.

In any case, let me tell you: I love this day. I love discovering that the new magazines have arrived. I like to be the first one to find them. I like to tear into the brown boxes that hide all of the shiny covers and all of the unturned pages, slicing through the clear packing tape to reveal the product of a month's work.

In the case of the Buyer's Guide, the product of six month's work. It all began way back in May, and I sent out the first round of requests for product information on June 16th.

Dear Colleague,

We are working on the 2006 Stereophile Buyer's Guide, which may include information on your products. We need your help in order to make the Buyer's Guide as comprehensive and accurate as possible.

Attached is an Excel spreadsheet detailing several areas of your products' character and performance. There are 17 product categories, from phono cartridges to amplifiers to cables & interconnects, all with their own specifications. Please fill in the blanks within the categories that apply to you, providing data that best represent your products.

The deadline my assistant, Kristina Roman, and I gave manufacturers was July 15th. You'd think an entire month would be enough time. But, no: the very last spreadsheet we received came in on August 30th. Kristina forwarded it to me via e-mail:

They're just a little late.

And, of course, the spreadsheets didn't just come to us all neat and tidy, soft bundles of joy wrapped in sweet-smelling cloth. They came in as stinking screaming bloody awful messes, not fit for this world. Kristina and I took turns: She'd break down and I'd lift her up again, I'd threaten to jump through Josh's windows and she'd hold me back.

"Do doingfully," I'd tell her.
"Do doingfully," she'd repeat.

And that was just the Compiling Data part. After that, there was an additional month of Sorting, Alphabetizing, Editing, Crying, Wanting to Give Up and Die, and a whole bunch of other crap. Do doingfully, do doingfully, do doingfully. Towards the end, well, I really hated the Buyer's Guide.

Today, however, I love it. I open its pretty pages and smile at it. I carefully place lucky copies on our display shelf, making sure that each one holds an equal amount of space. "Do doingfully," I tell myself.

They look good. Go out and buy one, dammit.

I'm still wondering what today's blog entry will be about when JA comes from his office with an enormous sigh and a bearish moan: "I've responded to ten million e-mails. You know, I think I'm going to stop working on this magazine altogether, so that I can dedicate all of my time to answering e-mails."
"Just do it doingfully," I say.
"I do," he sobs, "and it takes all day."

Billy Malieckal's picture

I hope this year's Buyers Guide would not miss equipments like Music Hall Turntable

Stephen Mejias's picture

Yup, they're in there.Music Hall turntables are not included in the 2005 Buyer's Guide because they did not return a spreadsheet of their data. It was requested. You can see that they did return specifications for amplifiers and digital components.