Monday, April 03, 2006


Today I'm too uninspired to come up with any blogging project of my own so I'll think I'll check in on my doppelgangers.

This used to be called a vanity search, but really I don't want to know about myself. I've been sitting here all day with myself; I know about as much as I care to know. This Cathy Marshall is not up to very much. This Cathy Marshall is uninspired. This Cathy Marshall did not change out of her sweatpants all day. I want to know about the other Cathy Marshalls, the ones I can claim to be. The ones with fabulous lives, stellar achievements, and good hair.

What are they up to? Who do I want to be today?

Hmmm. There's a realtor in South Carolina. She's been moving up the results list fast; I don't remember seeing her the last time I looked. And it's no wonder why. Listen to these testimonials from real clients: "Cathy Marshall was outstanding!!" And what about, "Keep Cathy Marshall. Working with her felt like I was working with a friend or the family."

I'll pretend these are about me. I feel better already. I really like the sound of that first endorsement. Outstanding!! And the second one. Keep Cathy Marshall. Maybe I'll send it up my management chain. The last part sounds funny though: "a friend or the family." The family sounds a little like The Family, perhaps with overtones of organized crime.

Maybe I'll move on down the list. A realtor's life is not for me.

Ooooh. There's a celebrity Cathy Marshall not much farther down the list. If you search on "Johnny Depp" with my name, there she is. I could claim to be her. There's no photo of her in IMDb, so who would know? The only trouble is that type-casting. She invariably seems to play a payroll accountant. A payroll accountant? She's in movies like Blow and she's playing a payroll accountant? She's not going to be walking down the red carpet at the Oscars, all décolleté and sequins, arm-in-arm with Brad Pitt. No, wait! She is the payroll accountant for all those movies. Drat! A CPA. Better or worse than a craft service assistant? What's the trickle-down effect of glamour? Does it trickle down that far?

Moving right along.

Okay. We'll turn that last one right around. Here's a fictitious Cathy Marshall, played by a real person (Lynne Miller) in a TV drama called The Bill. She's a police sergeant on the Domestic Violence beat. Maybe beat is the wrong word when we're talking about domestic violence. On Domestic Violence assignment? But no matter. I need a real doppelganger. A doppelganger who lives in a TV series is subject to all kinds of whims. In fact, I see this character drowned in 1996. Makes the sweatpants issue look minor.


Ah, here's a winemaker in South Africa who claims to be "Powered by Pinot". This Cathy Marshall looks awfully happy. Happy, burnished by the sun, and tousled by the wind. But the trouble is, she was a Physical Education major in college. In spite of my putative basketball scholarship, I couldn't cut it as a real PE major. I don't have the attention span for it and I flinch when someone throws a ball at me. I can't help it. It's a reflex, flinching. A good reflex. Keeps one from being hit in the eye by a projectile. While I like the winemaking aspect of this doppelganger, the PE background is a deal-breaker; that's not an identity I'll be assuming anytime soon.

Moving right along.

A lottery expert. Oh, I like that. She's recently joined a company called MDI Entertainment, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Scientific Games. The World Lottery Association's announcement doesn't tell us what MDI stands for. I like to see mysterious acronyms in a company that promotes mindless gambling. Buh-bye lunch money! Buh-bye double-wide trailer that I call home. "Cathy's vibrancy, relaxed personality and enthusiasm are a welcome addition to our MDI team," said Steve Saferin, MDI president. Okay. Vibrant. Relaxed. Enthusiastic. Like being mugged by the leader of the Pep Squad. So far, so good. But wait. Later in the same press release, they really hedge their bets:

In this press release we make "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of forward-looking terminology such as "may," "will," "estimate," "intend," "continue," "believe," "expect" or "anticipate," or the negatives thereof, variations thereon or similar terminology.

That's a lot of scare quotes and weasel words; I've never seen the future presented in such a cautious light. Might this other Cathy Marshall be up to something nefarious? I'm concerned. I don't look very good in a prison jumpsuit -- even worse than in my sweats. Perhaps I should find out what MDI stands for. Missile Defense Industries? Mighty Delicate Issues? Turns out they used to do 30 second advertising vignettes, media drop-ins. MDI. Oh. There's a past shadier than the lottery, a past that involves actors who've fallen further than Hollywood Squares.

I'm not doing very well with my doppelgangers.

I quickly dispatch a landscape architect (I always forget the term agapanthus), a graphic designer (I don't own a Mac anymore), and a cute ponytailed Ultimate Frisbee player (I think I already mentioned that business about the flinching). I finally get to the woman I've always thought of as the Real Cathy Marshall, the one with good hair, the ex-CNN News Anchorwoman who's now on TV in Boston. She's been demoted to Page 4 of the results, behind the collegiate Ultimate Frisbee player. Very sad. Back to the local news and the Web page many clicks away from the search. She may even be wearing sweatpants too right now.

For today, I'm not trading places with any of my doppelgangers, not even the cute one that comes up in Google's image search. Here's the thing: I try not to link to any of my doppelgangers; I don't want to screw up the ranking algorithm. Even if we factor out the issue of sweatpants, the only thing I've got going over them as it stands is location. And as Realtor Cathy Marshall will tell you: "There are three things to look for in a doppelganger: Location, location, location."


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