Sunday, September 11, 2011

Andy Borowitz, Tracy Klugian and Harland Dorinson

For a couple of years now I've subscribed to The Borowitz Report and I am a big fan. I also have a good memory for names, which could be why I noticed that Borowitz recycles them. Very often he attributes quotes from spokesmen, men on the street, or experts to either Harland Dorinson or Tracy Klugian. Also, Davis Logsdon, as I discovered writing this blog. And there may be others. By the way, Tracy is always "he," as far as I can tell, although Tracy can be a woman's name, too. As to the use of "he," Mr. B. should read NE-NER-NIS to learn how easily he could avoid choosing a sex for ambiguously-named persons.
          Nowhere on the web could I find a mention of the ubiquity of Klugian and Dorinson. This leaves me wondering whether they are completely fictitious or just (un)lucky enough to be associated with so many different statements and fields. They also grow old and young and old again at Andy's fancy: he always
mentions the ages of his people on the street. And yes, they are almost always men* unless the story particularly requires a woman speaker.
           Charities often auction the right to name a character in a book. Jane Smiley mentioned at a reading from Private Life at the University of Iowa last summer that this was how she had chosen the name for one of her characters. (The book is, by the way, deep and profound, with remarkable insights about life and relationships. It tells the story of the apparently simple, mostly bland life of a woman whose experiences are not what anyone would immortalize in a movie. They are just what really happens.)
           Thus the question is: are Tracy Klugian and Harland Dorinson real people who have obtained the right to be in The Borowitz Report by donating to Andy's favorite charity, or are they names he made up, perhaps after making sure that there were no such real people at least as far as Google and Facebook revealed? I checked this myself today.
Google: Based on the first two pages of hits, Tracy Klugian is only found in Borowitz Reports. I thought I'd found Harland Dorinson somewhere else, but it was in a politically conservative (as self-described) blog that copied a Borowitz piece verbatim but without attribution. I won't link to it because I have a serious problem with lack of attribution, but here is the link for the original piece by Borowitz, from 2008, "Recession Resulting in Crappiest Presents Ever". Reading it brought the name Davis Logsdon to my attention. I thought I'd seen it recently. Sure enough, Davis also appears frequently.
Facebook: Facebook has no entries for Tracy K nor Harland D although facebook's bing search shows a zoominfo entry for a Tracy Klugian, spokesman for Ohio Art. That's one of Borowitz's jokes.
           To begin to appreciate how often Andy has used these names, search The Borowitz Report website. This link is for Tracy Klugian.
           Do other names recur on the Borowitz Report? Now I'll be on the lookout. And if you notice any, please let me know.
*It is rare that Borowitz quotes a fictitious female. I tried searching his site for "she." Alas, you can't include a blank after the word, so you get a hit every time he mentions that prices have been slaSHEd on his book. You also get hits for fictitious quotes from real females. But fictitious females? Few inhabit Andy's fictional world. Hence the answer to the riddle, how is Borowitz like the film industry in general and Pixar in particular? For more on that, see my explanation for why I was down on Up (the movie) and how disappointed I was that Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar was for an otherwise all-male production.

21 comments:

  1. who is Tracy Klugian and is he an Armenian?

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    1. Borowitz' Tracy Klugian does not exist (see above). But if NE* did, NE could be Armenian because (as I bet you know) Armenian names end in IAN.

      *NE is my preferred gender subject pronoun. See tinyurl.com/ne-ner-nis. Someone named Tracy could be female, but as of the time I posted, females were very rare among the fictional characters from Borowitz' pen. Perhaps since that time he has become an Equal Employment Opportunity employer in his humor columns. I don't know because he stopped emailing them when he moved to The New Yorker.

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  2. Just caught this after think the same thing about Tracy Klugian. One other thing I have noticed is that many of his academic experts are from the University of Minnesota.

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  3. Thanks! Interesting about Minnesota! See today's post for some additional thoughts and research that your comment inspired. tinyurl.com/klugian2

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  4. A presumable woman, Carol Foyler, often appears, as in today's Report: "Carol Foyler, an idiot from Kenosha, Wisconsin."

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  5. Thanks. I'll follow up! I discovered Ms. Foyler myself back in February, see http://myunpublishedworks2.blogspot.com/2014/02/andy-borowitz-and-minnesota-borowitz-02.html , and was happy back then to see that she was sometimes an executive something-or-other and not only a wife and mother. I'm going to look into Borowitz' idiots some more. In my first quick search this morning I found that Borowitz has also made an idiot of the always-male Harland Dorinson.

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  6. As well as Tracy Klugian. Which leads me to wonder, three years after the original post, whether Borowitz' Tracy has yet had a chance to change nis gender the way ne changes age, location, job title, etc. More research to do! So far I have found that: A. Klugian was a gender-unspecified spokesperson in May 2014, and B. Seven of the top 10 people named Tracy on http://www.famousbirthdays.com/names/tracy.html are female.

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  7. Try Anita Bath and Noah Fence

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  8. Ha ha ha! But Andy's names are a different sort than your examples. His don't become funny if you say them out loud. They're just unusual names that - as far as I could tell by searching the internet when I wrote - do not belong to any real person.

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    1. I wonder if there is additional meaning behind "Klugian". Saying it out loud does sound like "Clued you in". Thoughts?

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    2. Clever surmise! And my statement that Borowitz' names "don't become funny if you say them aloud" needs revision! In my defense, I'll say that in my mind's ear (a very active faculty I employ when I read, to help me find what I call 'stoppers' in my own and other people's writing, see http://myunpublishedworks2.blogspot.com/2013/07/three-minute-fictions-finders-keepers.html), the G in Klugian was always a hard G. But now that I say it with a soft G, your interpretation works very nicely indeed. Another possibility is that a Klugian (soft G) is a person who does kluge jobs. Thanks for bringing me some smiles! - RJM

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  9. Harland Dorrinson is now being quoted as an authority by forces trying to bring down the Sanders presidential campaign.

    “People come to Sanders’s rallies expecting to hear the truth, and he serves it up to them on a silver platter,” the political strategist Harland Dorrinson said. “It’s a very calculated gimmick.”

    https://www.facebook.com/forrest.palmer/posts/10204710596106657?notif_t=notify_me

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    1. Benedict: You may recognize that quote as satire from Borowitz but I don't think forest.palmer, the facebook poster, or the person whose post he shares, one Michael Dussault, understood that the quote casts Sanders in a very positive light. (Truth from a political candidate? Ho ho ho.) The strategist Harland is, of course, a Borowitz creation. See http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/sanders-shamelessly-pandering-to-voters-who-want-to-hear-truth

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  10. There is a Harland Dorrinson who is an "operations manager" at the Lyndon Johnson Space Center (NASA) in Texas.

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    1. I think Andy may have tricked you. It looks like the first reference to that Harland is in one of his pieces from December 2013. http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/hubble-telescope-sends-back-annoying-stream-of-selfies . But I'd love to be wrong about that, so let me know if you find otherwise!

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  11. Um, this is satire. Of course those names are fictitious. That's what makes them so funny when they appear again and again. How many times does Andy cite researchers at the University of Minnesota? Same thing! :-)

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  12. Thanks! Yes, readers who remember names will cotton to the joke but I think many are still curious about those names. That's based on how many hits this post gets compared to my others. You found this post, too: what were you looking for?! As to satire: you make an interesting point. I'm not aware of other satirists recycling names. In the old days of newspapers, I suspect editors might have balked at such a practice. In the internet age, however, once you - or Andy Borowitz - have created a name that doesn't otherwise appear on the web, I can see a few reasons why you/Andy would want to keep using it. As to Minnesota: Yup! I've also written about that after the Feb. 2014 comment from Anonymous. Scroll up to see that comment. For my Borowitz - Minnesota essay, use the blog's search box or paste this link: http://myunpublishedworks2.blogspot.com/2014/02/andy-borowitz-and-minnesota-borowitz-02.html
    Thanks again for reading and even more for commenting! -RJM

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  13. Love that ZoomInfo posted this: "Harland Dorrinson, operations manager at the Johnson Space Center, said that NASA had monitored the images sent back by the Hubble since 1990, but that if it persists in sending back nothing but self-portraits, NASA would 'probably stop following it.'
    "The Hubble might think it looks good in these pictures, but they're of no interest to anyone but the Hubble itself," he said.

    http://www.zoominfo.com/p/Harland-Dorrinson/-2099583870

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    1. Thanks for the link. You're the second commenter to note that the Harland/Hubble relationship has been given reality by the internet. See Rob Riley's comment of Dec. 8, 2015 and my reply.

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  14. Harland Dorrinson has a LinkedIn profile.

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    1. Thanks for the huge laugh. Indeed he does: https://www.linkedin.com/in/harland-dorrinson-a5b369119/ His employment history consists of the jobs Andy Borowitz has assigned him over the years. The time he's spent on each job is almost always just a few months, and the jobs are another tip-off, for example, Chief Psycho, Random Shooters of America, Akron, Ohio. Farther down, Dorrinson is a managing partner at the law firm of Dorrinson, Klugian and Foyler. Cassiecooks: did you create this page yourself? It's a hoot. More on a new post! Thanks again.

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