Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Calm down, Buffy fans!

Full disclosure: I'm a fairly new Buffy fan. My mom and I started watching the DVDs a few years ago and loved it. I'll admit that we have stalled and have to finish the 6th and 7th season. But I do love what I have watched. Besides Buffy, I'm a fan of Joss Whedon. Firefly was fantastic. Dr. Horrible was awesome. I never really got into Dollhouse, but I'm not sure that was Joss Whedon's fault. What I'm saying is Joss Whedon is great at what he does. I can't wait to see what he gives us next. There I got that off my chest, so let's talk about the Buffy reboot now.

I kinda thought we were over talking about this but then I saw this post. I know reboots are a sensitive topic and most people are predisposed to hate them but let's look at this rationally.

1. I thought Joss Whedon was using irony in his statement and being very classy about it. Maybe I was wrong.
2. Don't we want Buffy to beat Edward? As a community, Buffy fans have been pretty hard on Twilight fans. A Buffy reboot would be the way to show them the error of their ways and get them interested in the Buffy TV show.
3. As much as I would love a Buffy movie starring the cast from the TV show, aren't some of them getting a little old. I think it's time to let go.

I do see the point that Hollywood has run out of ideas and just keeps using established ideas that are not that old. It's fair to be upset about that, but let's also remember the recent reboots of Batman and Star Trek that were pretty good. I'm not saying the movie is going to be good. Just wait until it's actually made before declaring it a terrible movie.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I regret that I have but one night to spend at w00tstock

I've been trying to find a single word that can express my experience at w00tstock (which was over a month and a half ago but I'm a procrastinator) other than "awesome" because that's a pretty obvious choice. Since I can't find one word to express my w00tstock experience, I will use many words. Many, many words.

A few months ago, right around the time that I was thinking "I wish w00tstock would come to Chicago," I read on Wil Wheaton's blog that w00tstock would be coming to Chicago and I let out a high pitched scream. If you know me, then you probably know that I am not one to let out a high pitched scream, but I assure you that on that day I did. I told Carrie she should go with me. She had no clue what w00tstock was so I told her that Adam Savage would be there and then sent her a link to the first part of The Captain's Wife's Lament from one of the v1.x w00tstocks. After watching the video, she agreed to go with me. Tickets were bought. Expectations were high.

It truly was an awesome night. In every sense of the word. Have you ever had one of those experiences when you are watching something and you know that what you are watching is special. That other people are going to be jealous of you because you witnessed this live. This was one of those experiences for me. It was beautiful. I'm not sure that I can appropriately describe what was beautiful about the night. This might be one of those "you had to be there" times, but I'll try.

Carrie and I arrived at Park West at about 6:45. It had started pouring rain at about 6:30 so we took refuge in a Subway down the block. We were also hungry so that worked out very well. When we arrived at Park West, we promptly found seats sufficiently close to the stage. I bought a shirt. It made me happy.

At approximately 7:30 Wil Wheaton gave his introduction that I wish I had recorded with my brand new camcorder but I didn't know how long the battery would last and I assumed there would be lots of things that I needed to record later (spoiler warning: I was right). Anyway, Wil Wheaton said a little bit about every guest for the night and then introduced the opening band Paul and Storm who also happened to be the closing band. They sang Opening Band. When they got to the line "And, sad to say, as of today no panties have been thrown," someone threw a pair of underwear onstage. I'm pretty sure it was the guy who was sitting behind me or someone not to far away. So Paul and Storm had to do a quick rewrite of that line.

Everything else blends together so I'm not really sure what order it all happened in. Pay no attention to the order of events as they are laid out here. This will be a nonlinear blog post.

A custom poster was being drawn onstage by Len Peralta. It was extra fun to watch his reactions to all the performers. I didn't buy the poster that night but I ended up suffering from non-buyer's remorse and ordered it. I think I made the right choice.

Molly Lewis was absolutely adorable. She sang a songs about being a surrogate mother for Stephen Fry and breaking up with wikipedia. Also, she plays the ukulele. She had a theory about the weather that night and how it did not start raining until all the nerds were gathered in one place. She vowed to do further testing on the theory and then use it to take over the world. Did I mention that she is adorable.

Tim Cavanaugh sang some very hilarious songs. My personal favorite was the commercial jingle for a Bible Outlet (which makes sense since I am an advocate for commercial jingles and I love Catholic humor).

Foxtrot creator Bill Amend showed us a bunch of his awesome comics as well as geeky parodies of other comic strips. He talked about Wil Wheaton crashing his website. Wil Wheaton tried to crash his website again. I realize it doesn't really sound funny but it was hysterical.

I'm not going to lie to you, Marge: Wil Wheaton was the reason that I bought a ticket to w00tstock. Wil Wheaton is usually the reason that I do a lot of things. Wil Wheaton read the story from Happiest Days of Our Lives (one of the few Wil Wheaton books that I do not own) about losing his Rocky Horror Picture Show virginity. It's such an appropriate story to tell at an event like w00tstock. It's about a shared experience among people who dress up like their favorite characters and know all the lines to the movie. Yeah, that kind of sounds like us. If you want to see it, it is all over YouTube.

Peter Sagal delivered a legendary performance. I apparently was the only person that took video or at least was the only person who shared my video on YouTube. I'll admit that I may have not taken the video except that Paul loves Peter Sagal and could not go to w00tstock so whatever Peter Sagal was going to do, I was going to film it for Paul. It was a wise decision. One of the reasons that it was so fantastic is that Peter Sagal never once acknowledged that he was Peter Sagal from Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. He was just a henchman at an open mic night. It was awesome.

Adam Savage told a very NSFW story about his first time in Chicago. He also sang I Will Survive as Gollum which you can find all over YouTube.

The opening band returned. Paul and Storm closed out the night. They sang Nunfight. I do love Catholic humor. They also sang Frogger!: The Frogger Musical which is a personal favorite of mine.

At the very end, Adam Savage and Wil Wheaton returned to the stage to sing The Captain's Wife's Lament which was epic. Carrie and I really only could stay for what I call the pre-game show of the song. I laughed so hard. But, alas, we needed to catch a train at 12:40 which seemed reasonable when the show started at 7:30 and was billed as 3 hours of geeks and music. As it was approaching 4 and 1/2 hours, Carrie and I left but thanks to the wonders of the internet I have been able to see the end of the song. It was so funny that I wept.

Eternal Arr from Dan Coulter on Vimeo.

The night was amazing. I do wish that I could have gotten Wil Wheaton to sign my paper that I wrote on Stand By Me as a road movie. I guess I just need to go to PAX.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Because Gummy Bears and Dr. Pepper Aren't Spilling Out Into the Ocean or Why I Won't Boycott My Local BP

Over the past few days on Twitter, I have seen many calls for boycotts of BP due to the oil spill. There are some boycotts that are necessary to change the world. This BP boycott is not one of them.

All I've heard is that I'm supposed to boycott BP. So, should I not buy gas from BP or should I not buy anything at all from them? Is buying a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper going to kill sea life on the Gulf coast?

I've also seen a list of other gas stations that I'm supposed to boycott because they buy oil from BP. I have not seen any big movement to stop using gas because it is harmful to the Earth. All I have seen is a call for boycotts of BP oil and that's not really helping the Earth if you're just going to get it from somewhere else.

Hearing about all these calls for boycotts only makes me want to spend more money at my local BP. Why? Because it's my local BP. It's just a franchise which someone, who does not have anything to do with the oil spill, owns. This is the person who is going to lose money from a boycott not the CEO of BP. So all the big deal people at BP lose a couple million dollars while the local franchise owners go bankrupt because the idealistic people out there believe that they can make BP pay for this disaster by boycotting their gas stations.

What it comes down to is this: The damage has already been done. BP has to fix the situation. Boycotting BP is not going to get it done any faster and its only going to hurt small business owners.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy Birthday, Bea Arthur!

On this day in 1922, Bea Arthur was born.

Did you know that Bea Arthur was the original Yente the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof. The role that I tend to think of as being played by a short, stumpy lady was originated by the tall, skinny Bea Arthur. What couldn't that woman do?

As today should be a day of celebration in honor of Bea Arthur, I suggest celebrating by watching these videos.

Bosom Buddies from Mame

The Star Wars Holiday Special

I Got You Babe from Golden Girls

Sex and the City parody from TV Land

Golden Girls Theme

A Tribute to Bea Arthur using the final scene from Golden Girls

The Best of Bea

Don't Rain on My Parade

And then there's Maude

Do the Urkel! (Thank you, YouTube, from the bottom of my heart).

Bea Arthur reads from Pam Anderson's book (NSFW)

Friday, April 30, 2010

An awesome weekend full of awesome: Aw Yeah!

A couple of weekends ago was C2E2. I know I'm late writing this blog post but not as late as Carrie who is now waiting for me to post this before she films and posts her vlog recap.

I said to Carrie before C2E2 that I hoped we had as much fun as we kept saying we would have. Well, I think we had more fun than we could have imagined.


Our adventure began early Friday. Not super, but early enough. Paul was so excited that he was awake even early than me. I joked that he should have sat in the living room watching cartoons like he did when he woke up super early before his first day of camp.

Paul was wearing a Superman hoodie and I had my Wonder Woman tote bag, a guy asked us on the Red Line if we were going to the convention. We said yes. He was wearing a Hulk shirt (I believe) and said he was too. We got off sooner so we could meet Carrie. We then walked from our hotel to McCormick Place and learned that we would never do that again. It was nice and we got lots of steps on our pokewalkers but it was a little far and we were very unsure of where we were going. On our journey, we met a fellow con goer who had no clue where he was going either. Together we went through a door we shouldn't had which led us to a dead end. Then we went through another door that we should not have gone through and ended up on a loading dock. Eventually, we made it to the convention.

Day 1

Lots of swag. Our first stop was the DC booth where we got posters, comics, pins and temporary tattoos. I got a Wonder Woman tattoo that I wore on Saturday and a Tiny Titans Robin tattoo that I wore on Sunday.

I decided that this would be my day to browse. I vowed that I would buy the Yoshi slippers that I failed to buy last year at Wizard World. I searched but did not see any green ones just pink and light blue so I didn't end up buying them. I did buy a book called Chicks Dig Time Lords that contains essays written by female fans of Doctor Who. I also picked up some issues of Birds of Prey for 99 cents.

My lunch was overpriced because I bought from the carts in the cafe but it was good. Later, Paul discovered the vending machines so we didn't need to spend as much on pop. Also, he overheard someone talking about a McDonald's in McCormick Place. We would eat there three times over the course of the rest of the convention.

Paul and I went to Artist's Alley and got Patrick Gleason and Peter Tomasi to sign some of our Green Lantern stuff. Please note that we chose a couple issues to get signed rather than the entire run of Green Lantern Corps to get signed like the guy in front of us.

Paul went off to a panel and I watched Windy City Jedi perform some light saber battles. One of them was 12 years old and another one had a broken arm. Some of the fight choreography was pretty cool.

I stopped by Artists Alley again to get Art Baltazar and Franco to sign my Tiny Titans #25. The girl in front of me was getting a sketch and I learned that they charged a dollar a character for a sketch. I decided that I would come back for a sketch once I knew what I wanted. I vowed that I would return, I just didn't return that day.

I went to the Comics and Mythology panel. Gail Simone was on the panel and she talked about her work on Wonder Woman. When someone asked why other religious figures such as Greek gods appear in comics but Jesus never appears, one of the other guys on the panel said something about the comic book companies not wanting to violate Christianity or something. Gail Simone responded, "I think they should all be violated."

Kate arrived about the time the panel got out and she and I browsed some more. We got more swag from the DC booth and even went over to the Marvel booth.

We got dinner and I suggested heading over to the room where the Doctor Who screening was going to take place. Paul thought it was too early because there was still about an hour before it began. Since the show floor closed at 7 and we knew that the cafe area was going to flood with people, we headed over to the room. We were a little unsure of where we were going again so we followed the Seventh Doctor. Lots of people were lining up early. Some were dressed like the Doctor. Many had sonic screwdrivers. I came equipped with my plush Dalek that Kate knit me for my birthday. It was a big hit. I got my picture taken with the Doctor and the Doctor. The guy from BBC America took a picture with my Dalek.

Day 2

Carrie and I waited for a C2E2 bus that never came. About 8 Kitchen and Bath show buses passed us though. Carrie felt a little silly waiting for a bus on Michigan Avenue dressed up like Robin. I said, "People might think you're crazy now but once we get to the convention, people will think that you are awesome." I was wrong. She only had to wait until we got on the bus. About 90% of the people on the bus were going to C2E2. She received a couple compliments on her utility belt.

Once we got there, Carrie had to go volunteer. I got an iced green tea latte from Starbucks and saw Alex Segura in line and almost said, "Hey, I follow you on Twitter because Geoff Johns told me to," but the moment had past and I went on with my life. I met up with Paul and Kate and went to get Gail Simone's autograph. I love Gail Simone.

After eating lunch at the significantly cheaper than the McCormick Place food but slightly more expensive than a normal McDonald's McDonald's, Kate and I went to Celebrating Star Wars. I was hoping Carrie Fisher would be there but apparently she spent all weekend in a curtained off area on the show floor. It seemed kind of weird. I mean, how do I even know that Carrie Fisher was in there? They could have just been luring people in there to sacrifice to the comic gods. We'll never know.

Kate and I went to the "Do We Still Need a Women in Comics Panel?" panel. It was super boring.

Carrie and I stayed for the ItsJustSomeRandomGuy panel. There was this super fan kid that kept asking questions. The panel just kept going but Carrie and I left. We were tired.

Day 3

The convention started at 10 and I started the day by browsing a little bit. Geoff Johns was going to be signing at 11, but by the time I got over there at 10:30, the line had been capped. Paul and Josh managed to make it in line, although they were pretty far back. Instead, I got some Green Lantern stuff signed by Ethan Van Sciver. I also got him to sign Carrie's issue of Flash: Rebirth #1 that I had borrowed because I'm a good friend like that.

I met up with Carrie again and we went to the DC Town Hall. That was lots of fun because Dan Didio is awesome. When a kid in the audience said that he had to buy the Lantern rings on ebay, Jim Lee signed and/or sketched on a $20 bill and gave it to that kid. Carrie was so jealous.

I met up with Paul, Kate and Josh and then had to duck away to buy a birthday present for Paul. I bought him a CD by a band called the Browncoats from St. Louis. I felt it was worth for their cover of "The Hero of Canton."

We all headed over to the Flash and Green Lantern panel. As fun as the DC Town Hall was, the Flash and Green Lantern panel was so much more awesome. I could try to explain the awesomeness, but you just had to be there. Ian Sattler was hilarious. Geoff Johns is kind to children. Some random guy went to the Kitchen and Bath Show because he really likes stoves. A kid named William got to read part of Brightest Day #1 while sitting next to Geoff Johns. About Brightest Day #1, William said, "This is good." It was amazing. Someone asked Geoff Johns if he could spend a little bit more time signing autographs at the DC booth and he said he would just sign autographs right there after the panel. I got my stuff signed, got Carrie's Flash: Rebirth #1 signed and told Geoff Johns that I loved his Twitter. Carrie, who had accepted that she was not going to get anything signed by Geoff Johns because of the long lines, completely freaked out when she saw that I had gotten it signed for her. As soon as she recovered from that, Geoff Johns walked by and said he liked her Lantern ring necklace. She could not breath.

I went to the DC Kids: Aw Yeah panel. Now, I'm not a big fan of children, but these kids were adorable. The panel solidified my love for Tiny Titans. Dan Didio also informed me that there was a Blackest Night issue of Scooby Doo. It was issue #150. I took a pen out so I could write this down and I was not the only person who did.

I finished up my shopping and bought a Captain Mal necklace. I can't believe I have lived my life this long without owning a piece of jewelry with Nathan Fillion on it. With about half an hour left, Kate was waiting in line to get a sketch from Questionable Content and I decided to return to Art Baltazar and get a sketch. When Kate was finished, the entire posse came over and waited with me. Paul decided that he would get a Green Lantern sketch. As I was getting my sketch, I told Art Batlazar that I thought their panel was awesome. It took him about a minute to do the entire sketch of Speedy in sharpie and crayons. I took out my wallet to pay and he said not to worry about it. I know it would only have been a dollar but getting it for free made it so much more awesome. Aw yeah free sketch!

Overall, C2E2 was so much fun. I'm definitely going back next year. Probably for the whole weekend again. Now that C2e2 is over, it makes me want to go to PAX Prime. Any takers?

(Take that, Carrie! I got this post up a whole day before I said I would. Quit your slacking, slacker).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

How I would make the Streamys better

The Streamys are on. Right now. As I start to write this. But I don't really care. But I do. I've been waiting for this for about 3 months. I should watch them for research for my paper on the web video industry, but this is quite possibly the worst awards show that I have ever watched. I've sat through the Emmys, Tonys, Oscars, Daytime Emmys, and the BAFTAs. But this might be the worst. Please allow me to explain.

First of all, I just finished stage managing/running the light board for a very small theatre production so I can understand the difficulty of getting a show to start on time and run smoothly. With that being said, if you tell me that something starts at 7:30, then I expect it to start at 7:30. I don't care if it only starts 3 minutes late, you did not say that it would start at 7:33. Also if you're going to start the awards show late, then start the live stream late. There was a good two minutes or so where there was no video but there was audio. Someone was asking someone else about cue cards. Yeah, we heard that.

Okay, about the actual awards ceremony itself. Was it necessary to start with a musical number? I love musical numbers. I really do. But that's an awards ceremony cliche. It's also unnecessary filler. And there was a lot of unnecessary filler. I saw plenty of filler and I didn't even watch the entire ceremony because I got so bored and annoyed. Asking people who don't watch web series what they thought about the Streamys was funny for about 2 seconds. Also, a host was probably unnecessary as well. These are all elements of traditional awards ceremonies like the Oscars and the Emmys. Aren't those the industries that are not as accepting as the web? Isn't that part of the reason that web series exist? The web video industry is a completely new industry. Why fall into the old patterns? Why even have an awards ceremony?

I'm not saying get rid of the awards all together, just the ceremony. Now, hear me out. Have an awards tweet-up instead. You can organize events all over the world (it is an international event after all) and invite fans as well as nominees. It would be difficult to coordinate all these events but it could be tons of fun and would get the awards out of Los Angeles. I mean there could still be an event there but just not only there. LA already gets the Oscars, the Emmys, and even the Daytime Emmys now, why does it need the Streamys too? Especially since the web video industry is not based solely out of LA. Or the US for that matter. Which leads me to...

The Bannen Way. Let's talk about The Bannen Way's inclusion as a nominee and its subsequent win. It was only eligible because they specifically made sure to release the first few episodes just in time to meet the deadline. I know that movies do this all the time to be eligible for Oscars: release a movie on Christmas in limited release just in time for awards season. I get it. It's nothing new. But remember what I said about old patterns? Also, geo-blocking. My understanding is that the Streamys are supposed to be international seeing as how it is organized by the International Academy of Web Television. By allowing shows only available in the US to be eligible makes it seem American. And Best Foreign Series? Again, makes it seem American and not international.

Back to the ceremony itself for a moment. What was with all those empty seats right in the front? Were there no seat fillers? Could you not tell people to move closer? It just made the ceremony look so pathetic. It looked like an awards ceremony that desperately wanted to be like the Oscars or the Emmys (while constantly reminding us that it is not the television or movie industries) but just could not measure up.

I think it's time to really change the entertainment industry. Not just do the exact same thing that tv and movies do. Show those industries what an awards show can be like. Be inclusive. Make it the can't miss party of the year.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Lady Gaga Rant

I've heard people say that you either love Lady Gaga to the point of obsession or you hate her. Well, I'm in the middle. I don't love her. I don't hate her. I don't love to hate her. I don't hate to love her. But somehow, while being indifferent, I still have strong feelings about her and her music. I am passionate about my indifference towards her because I expect more from her. This is best explained through my official Lady Gaga rant:

First of all, I worship Freddie Mercury and Queen. Under Pressure is the greatest song ever. Fat Bottom Girls is brilliant and I adore Radio Ga Ga. So for Lady Gaga to have an allusion to Radio Ga Ga and Queen in her stage name actually turned me off at first. No one can ever be Freddie Mercury so why even try. By having Gaga in her name made me think she was trying to be like Freddie Mercury (which I still think but more on that later) and I would have none of that.

I finally softened towards her mostly due to Bad Romance. That song is just so gosh darn catchy. Bad Romance was everywhere and I was pretty okay with that. Lady Gaga was one of Barbara Walters 10 Most Fascinating People. Everyone was talking about Lady Gaga. Fine. I mean this type of thing happens every once in a while. Everyone talked about Britney Spears. Then we didn't. Then we did. For a while Miley Cyrus was everywhere. It happens. I can't blame everyone for overexposure.

Then came the Telephone music video. Before this I had known a couple people who were obsessed with Lady Gaga. For some reason, it was this music video when people started going crazy over Lady Gaga. And I just don't understand it. Whether I agree or not, I just don't see why lots of people are acting like Lady Gaga is the greatest pop star ever. I don't always agree with trends (like zebra print- what's with that) but I usually can understand them. I understand the Twilight obsession. I don't agree with it but I understand it. I just don't get the Lady Gaga obsession.

Her songs are admittedly superficial. Especially Telephone. The video does not make up for the song's lack of depth. Not that the song needs to have depth. Some songs don't and that's all right. But looking at Lady Gaga's inspiration and her obvious talent, why aren't we getting better music from her? Sure her over the top persona is enough to make her relevant now, but will it be enough to give her a place in music history.

Lady Gaga does not deny that she has many inspirations. In my opinion, she seems to draw inspiration from Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Elton John, Madonna, and Cher among others. She has an over the top persona. She dresses in outrageous outfits. She can be so over the top and outrageously dressed because of these people that came before her. She also has the talent. But she lacks the depth that these other artists have or had. At least, at the moment. Not every song that these artists have released has been deep. I mean Fat Bottomed Girls is just a fun song. I acknowledge that not every song needs to raise philosophical questions. Well, here's a philosophical question for you: what does a song need to do to be memorable? I say it needs to have some depth or be way too fun or both. Give me something half as brilliant as Radio Ga Ga. I know you have it in you, Lady Gaga. You're getting there with Bad Romance.

Let's talk about irony. After the Telephone video came out, I stumbled upon a conversation in which Lady Gaga's irony was praised and a claim was made for a riot grrl tone to the video. Okay, first I need to comment on this riot grrl claim. Um... no. I'm way too young to have lived through the riot grrl movement. I was about 2 when that started. The people involved in this conversation were 2 years older than me. Honestly, I think what they really meant was Girl Power. I have a theory about people supporting Girl Power in a round about way by calling it riot grrl (which is an entirely different movement from the Girl Power movement) because they're too embarrassed to actually support Girl Power because it's too girly and not grrly enough, but I'll save that for another post. Anyway, I don't think the Telephone music video could be considered riot grrl because the song is superficial. If the song was about domestic violence and getting revenge for it rather than a song about not being able to answer your phone because you're on the dance floor with a drink in your hand, then it would be riot grrl, but alas it is a song about being on the dance floor with a drink in your hand so you can't answer your phone.

All right, on to the irony. I don't think product placement can ever be ironic. It may be intended to be ironic but if CocaCola is paying money so that their cans are used as curlers in Lady Gaga's hair, then it is not actually ironic. The prison guard on Plenty of Fish was random and unnecessary and probably cost Plenty of Fish a nice chunk of change.

Mama Cass said make your own kind of music. Now that's ironic because when she sings that it sounds like a song that Petula Clark, Judy Collins, or Dusty Springfield could have sung. Despite that actual irony, Mama Cass has a point. Why sing something that anyone else at this time could be singing? Everyone is doing dance hits or songs about partying now. Lady Gaga has obvious talent. I expect more. She can still write fun dance hits but give them more depth. Cher has done plenty of these. So, I leave you with this:

Slightly, off topic: Someone needs to remake Labyrinth with Lady Gaga as the Goblin Queen. How awesome would that be?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

You'll watch YouTube on a horse when you use it.

Let's talk about this new Verizon commercial:

I have frequently lamented the disappearance of the commercial jingle. So I enjoy this commercial but only to a point. While funny on its own, it really requires that at some point you saw this commercial:

It is really specific to the above video. I mean, maybe you had seen this commercial:

or this one:

or maybe this one:

or perhaps this one from two years ago that I somehow missed completely:

Please note that I watched many more Big Red commercials. There are many variations with the same jingle. It seems that in the 90s, they attempted to jazz up the jingle a bit as you can see. But the Verizon commercial is very specific to that one Big Red commercial from the late 80s.

Verizon is counting on your previous knowledge of that Big Red commercial or even your knowledge of any Big Red gum commercial, but a Big Red gum commercial from the 80s nonetheless. Big Red used this jingle in their commercials from 1979 to 1998. A lot of people know this jingle. And then, I imagine that some people don't especially teenagers who would have missed the Big Red commercials completely but I guess Verizon doesn't really care about that demographic. I would love to know how many people were unaware of the Big Red gum commercials when they saw the Verizon commercial and what they thought of it.

Like I said, I enjoy the commercial. I really want advertisers to get back to using jingles. Especially since many companies have jingles that are already associated with them (I'm looking at you Toys R Us: why not actually get those same people from the commercials you had 20 years ago and have them sing about how they're still Toys R Us Kids? I mean, people would probably recognize Jenny Lewis but what is she even doing these days? And everyone loves Jaleel White).

This Verizon commercial is an acknowledgment that advertisers are aware that we will recall commercials and their jingles that are 20 years old. But why not create your own jingle? If people walk around singing it, most other people will think: "I want a piece of cinnamon gum now" not "I'm going to switch to Verizon now." It seems like lazy advertising to me. At least they're done telling me why other phone companies suck so that's good.

I leave you with these final thoughts:


which leads me to:

which in turn leads me to this:

I bet you thought I'd link to the wedding entrance video too but you're on your own for that one.

Moral of the story: Advertisers need to stop being lazy or maybe need to get even lazier and dust off old jingles and actually use them. We remember them. We love them. We will sing them. They're catchy, we can't help it. But you need to remind us.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Because My Lists Go To 11: 11 Reasons I (Secretly) Like "Tik Tok"

Every once in a while, there is a song that seems like it is everywhere. I pretend to not know the song. Well, usually it takes about two months of the song being everywhere before I even hear the song. I live under a rock apparently. And I don't listen to the radio. Anyway, I pretend not to like the song because it is everywhere and everyone sings it, but frequently, I do like the song. So, I'll admit it: I like "Tik Tok." It's just so catchy. I like the music video too. I feel that it provides lots for discussion and analysis. Here's why I like the song and the music video:

11. K-E-dollar sign-H-A

While not directly related to "Tik Tok," I enjoy the fact that she spells her name with a dollar sign. Apparently, this is ironic because she does not care about money or didn't have money when she came up with the idea or something. It's ironic. It also has inspired the stage spelling of my name: &@r~a# (the tilde is silent).

10. A boombox

You just don't see enough boomboxes anywhere anymore. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places. I think there might be a boombox in my garage. Anywho. Good job, Ke$ha, for using a piece of music history in your video.

9. A Bad Message

I doubt Ke$ha really wants to be a role model for anyone but the message she is sending to young, impressionable girls is that they need to ignore all other responsibilities, trade their bike for a boombox, party all night and then wake up the next day and do it again. I don't think young girls have enough bikes to do that. Also, I think she stole that bike. That is not nice.

But I'm a grown adult so I can enjoy a bad message every now and then.

8. "Wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy"

I definitely over-analyze song lyrics. Every time I hear this, I can't help but wonder "what does P.Diddy feel like in the morning?" I get it. P. Diddy parties a lot. But do you really know how he feels in the morning?

7. "The party don't start til I walk in."

I know Ke$ha is not the first person to express this sentiment but this is the first time I started thinking about it existentially. It's like if a tree falls in the forest but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Is there a party before I walk in? We may never know.

6. Why is she being arrested?

You can't just throw something into your story that doesn't make any sense. This video definitely has a plot. She wakes up, goes out, gets into a car with a creepy guy and then is pulled over and a policeman begins to handcuff her. Is it plot exposition to explain why she is wearing handcuffs later? As far as I can tell, she isn't doing anything wrong. She is even wearing her seat belt.

...or at least she was wearing her seat belt.

5. "Ain't got a care in the world but got plenty of beer"

It amazes me that Ke$ha is able to describe the college experience of most Americans even though she has not gone to college. I guess this also describe the life of the average Irish person. Before you know it, this will be the motto for St. Patrick's Day.

4. Forget grammar

Ke$ha doesn't even bother with correct spelling. I've pointed out that Britney Spears waited until her third album with "I'm a Slave 4 U" before substituting numbers and letters for words and Christina Aguilera waited until her second album with "Dirrty" before misspelling. Ke$ha breaks those rules proving once and for all that good grammar is for pussies. Her first single off of her debut album misspells the only two words in the title. Those C's weren't doing anything anyway.

3. "Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack cause when I leave for the night, I ain't coming back."

To me, this sounds like she is taking alcoholism to a whole new level. Also, how are these two thoughts connected? Okay, brushing your teeth before you leave for the night. I can follow that. But with a bottle of Jack? I don't see how this is a cause and effect thing. You're leaving for the night and not coming back so you must brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack? Is this supposed to be ironic? Is this something that Lindsay Lohan does? Is a "Lindsay Lohan as an alcoholic" reference too dated? Is she sober now? I stopped caring after I saw Georgia Rule. God, that was such a bad movie.

2. Ke$ha is bringing back the furry vest.

You know, if the furry vest was ever really in style. I've been critical of Britney Spears for copying Cher's style, but I've got to respect someone who is copying Sonny Bono by wearing a furry vest.

Also, I just really like this picture:Side note: Do you even know how excited I am that my hair is long enough to do the Cher hair flip?

1. "But we kick em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger."

Did Mick Jagger wear fanny packs in the 80s... or ever? He may have worn a sweat band. I really don't know or care. I don't think Mick Jagger was ever really attractive. Ke$ha is just the one to admit it. See. She uses irony. At least I hope she is using irony.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bad Romance

I hate Romeo and Juliet. I always have. I read it for the first time in my freshman English class in high school. I hated. I saw it that year at Chicago Shakespeare. I wanted to punch Juliet in the face. I've tried to sit though Romeo (plus sign) Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. It makes me so angry. I don't know why they think it's a good idea to use this play to introduce Shakespeare to high school students. I guess it's because it's a pretty straight forward story and a very recognizable story. But still. It's horrible. Maybe that was just high school me. Not older, cultured, theatre major me. Well, I've read it again in college. I still hate it.

I hate that people point to Romeo and Juliet as being a great love story (Taylor Swift, I'm looking at you). Today, in my Shakespeare class, someone brought up Romeo and Juliet in discussion of Othello. They said that Othello and Desdemona did not have a strong love like Romeo and Juliet. Are you kidding? Romeo and Juliet met one night. Decided to get married the next. Got married. He was banished later that day. She faked her death the next day. He came back, thought she was dead, killed himself. She wakes up, sees he is dead and kills herself. Yeah. That's a strong love. They spent about fifteen minutes together. Three days ago, he was head over heels for Rosaline.

It's not romantic. It's not really tragic. If anything, it's melodrama. Their love is so simplified. They just love each other. They see each other and just are in love. The only conversations they ever had were about how they loved each other. I don't buy it. This may be because I have a heart made of pure ice, but I'd like to believe that it's what Shakespeare intended. Friar Lawrence is the only one who has any sense. In Act 2 when Romeo is all like "Friar Lawrence, marry me and Juliet. We are totally in love and need to be married like now" (I may be paraphrasing slightly). Friar Lawrence tells Romeo, "Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast." If I considered this a tragedy, that would be the tragic flaw. Haste. Everything is about doing it now. I mean, if Romeo just waited twenty seconds before killing himself, everything would have been fine.

Okay, I'm going on a full fledged love tirade.

I've already complained about the Romeo and Juliet-like romance between Padme and Anakin. But can I ever really complain enough about that? Again, two people look at each other and are in love. Their romance doesn't move as quick as Romeo and Juliet's does but that doesn't matter because Anakin is a psychopath. Padme does not come off as a strong woman for standing by her man, she comes off as an idiot. Oh wait, I guess I'm forgetting that famous saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough lose the will to live."

Once upon a time, soap operas used to spend time to build up a supercouple. Really show them falling in love. Now, they throw two characters together and expect me to care about them. I don't. You really need to work to make me care. You know, like have two people actually go on more than one date. Or maybe wait a year before having them get married. For instance, on Days of Our Lives, Phillip and Melanie just got married on Valentine's Day (don't even get me started on that one). The thing about that is Phillip and Melanie dated for like a month before deciding to get married and then got married a couple months later. Also Phillip had been engaged to Stephanie like six months earlier. Also, Stephanie was the maid of honor at Melanie and Phillip's wedding. None of this is realistic at all. Also note that I watched Passions for six years and Charity being possessed by the devil never bothered me but this does.

I believe that love can be portrayed in a way that doesn't make me want to vomit. When Harry Met Sally... is probably the greatest romantic comedy. Why could that be? Maybe because we can see Harry and Sally fall in love. They have conversations that have more depth than "I'm only beautiful because I love you."

I guess since I complain about Padme and Anakin, I should say that I adore the Han and Leia relationship. If my ice heart ever melts and I say to someone, "I love you" and they reply with "I know," I would marry them right then and there. Padme and Anakin are like Romeo and Juliet and therefore are also kinda like Claudio and Hero from Much Ado About Nothing. Claudio and Hero are the horrible romance in Much Ado. The good romance is Beatrice and Benedick. Han and Leia are like Beatrice and Benedick who appear to hate each other and snark back and forth at each other until they realize that they are in love. These romances work for me.

Okay, I think this tirade is over. And yes, I will be alone forever. I'm not really a cat person.

So, Alone by Heart just came on the radio as I finished writing that last sentence. It makes me wonder if there is hope for me yet. Probably not.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Brief History of (My Time on) Facebook

I have recently been thinking about how Facebook has changed since I began using it. We all talk about the differences but since I have lots of time on my hands, I'm going to detail the changes. A special thanks to the "Criticism of Facebook" Wikipedia article. I could not do this post without you.

Wikipedia tells me that Facebook started in February of 2004. It was originally limited to only Harvard students but that's irrelevant because I did not attend Harvard. In fact, I was still in high school. I heard about Facebook from my brother Paul. You see, Mark Zuckerberg's sister went to the University of Chicago so they were one of the first colleges to be on Facebook after Harvard. It should also be noted that at some point in 2004 or 2005, my brother was kicked off of Facebook because the name License to Funk: The Paul B. Story was not acceptable. This is no joke. So at first, Facebook was for college students while teenagers, common folk and emo kids were on MySpace.

In September of 2005, after opening Facebook up to gradually more colleges and then all colleges, a high school version of Facebook was created. High schools with email addresses were added. You need to understand that few high schools in 2005 had email accounts. Fortunately for me, my high school had decided to get all tech savvy and we had email. I joined my high school's network on Facebook and there were literally 12 of us in it. I might even be overestimating that. So, I had an account but never really used it. Apparently, college Facebook and high school Facebook were combined in February of 2006 according to Wikipedia. Honestly, I did not notice. Wikipedia also tells me that some college students did not like this and felt Facebook was no longer exclusive. I laugh at this. It was still somewhat exclusive. I bet you wish for the good ole days when it was just college and high school students.

When I went to college in August of 2006, I joined my college's network and started using Facebook obsessively as a legitimate college student just in time for Facebook to open up to everyone the next month. Facebook was open to anyone but it still remained mostly college and high school students. Most of the people who joined that were not college or high school students were people who were college age but did not go to college. It made sense. Around the same time came the stalker feed. I mean the news feed. It told us everything we never knew we didn't want to know. People protested through Facebook groups. Those first few days, pretty much everyone's news feed was filled with So and So joined the group 1 Million Strong Against the News Feed. many people commented on their own penis. It was the first Facebook controversy that I can remember. People got down right hostile about it. Then, Mark Zuckerberg apologized and explained how we could set privacy features so not everything we did appeared in the news feed. People seemed satisfied enough with this.

Facebook still had the college and high school networks and with the addition of everyone to Facebook, regional networks were added. I joined the Chicago network and now was in three networks. Pretty much anyone I wanted to Facebook stalk was in one of my three networks. So I could stalk these people within my networks without being their friend. It was amazing. Few people set their profiles to private. If their profile was private, they obviously were hiding something. Most people were fine sharing information with people within their networks. And no one seemed to care what pictures they posted. I mean, there was always one sober person who documented the craziness and then posted the pictures of their drunk friends. Totally amazing, right? Since it was mostly college students, there was no reason to have any other kind of pictures.

Wikipedia tells me that albums were originally limited to 60 photos. I swear it was only 40 photos but perhaps I was misinformed. Now, the limit is apparently 200 photos per album (since May 2009). That seems unnecessary. Especially since the number of photos I've uploaded has decreased greatly in the last few years. Perhaps this will be helpful to me someday when I get married and upload every single picture to Facebook and then have lots of babies and post 200 pictures of my newborn spawn. I kid. I will never do that. I promise. If I do, you have permission to defriend me.

The next big change for Facebook came in May 2007 with the introduction of applications. I like applications just fine. I enjoy my Colbert Report application. I became obsessed with Flair. There are a few other applications that I have but don't really use. Some people became obsessed with applications and quite frankly, it interfered with my Facebook stalking of them. It became unbelievably annoying when I wanted to see what people said on their wall and I would have to scroll down forever to get to their wall.

This was an interesting time on Facebook. A time when people still needed to adapt their status update to begin with [insert name] is.... You had to give credit to the people who tried (ie. Sarah is wondering why it is so hot in her room). Some people didn't even make an attempt (ie. Sarah is OMG!!!1! Why is it so hot in here?) And some people used the first person along with the third person (ie. Sarah is wondering why it is so hot in my room). I assume that old Facebook status updates made English majors cry. I assume that most Facebook status updates still make English majors cry. Well, people wanted the "is" to be removed from status updates. Again, people created Facebook groups to protest. In December 2007, this wish was granted. Victory for all Facebook users. Free at last to use whatever verb we wanted in our status.

In the summer of 2008 when Facebook gave the option to use the "new" Facebook, I chose to stick with the Facebook that I knew. Then, I was forced to use this "new" Facebook. There were tabs, the wall and mini feed joined together and there was this little box that I'm still not sure what I'm supposed to write there. I just didn't like the change. I know that Facebook went out of their way to prepare me for this change, but I still did not like. Some people joined groups to protest but I was too lazy. I got over it. But I complained a lot.

I'm not really remembering anything huge happening throughout most of 2009 except that everyone and their mother joined Facebook. When Paul refused my mother's friend request, she said "You're dead to me." I kid you not. In November or December, Facebook changed the privacy settings because networks were getting too big or something like that. So basically, networks mean nothing any more and most everyone has their profile set to private. Way to make Facebook stalking difficult, Facebook. It's not like I'm a crazy person. I only stalked people I knew but didn't even like enough to be Facebook friends. I'm nosy, that's all.

And then, there was yesterday when I checked Facebook then went to class for 2 hours and was welcomed to the "new and improved" Facebook home page. It was easy for me to ignore notifications when they were at the bottom of the page but now they stare me in the face in the upper left corner. Stop changing, Facebook. You didn't add anything really. Everything is just in a different place. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Facebook. I'm like a trained monkey. Most of what I do, I don't think about. When something changes slightly, it throws me off. I'll get used to Facebook again but give me at least a couple months before you change it again.

Facebook really is a lot different then when I started using it. There is so much more to do on there and yet I use it a lot less. I don't know. Maybe I have less time to spend on there. Maybe I don't have as many people to talk to on there (the turn over rate on my friends is suprisingly high). Or maybe all the changes have taken the fun out of Facebook. It was distinctly college. I used it to look up people in my classes. I would look at the drunken pictures that were posted the day after a crazy party. I actually cared about who was in a relationship with whom and whether it was complicated or not. You know, important things like that. Now, everyone has family photos and wedding photos and pictures of their children. It just saddens me to see how much it has changed. Facebook seemed like a rite of passage. Now, my mom farms on Facebook.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Life Unexpected Review/ Recap Episodes 1-3

Today, I vowed to do lots of research. I did not do that. Instead, I watched the first three episodes of Life Unexpected. It's a CW show. I've had an odd relationship with CW shows. First of all, when the WB and UPN combined to create the CW, they canceled Everwood. They canceled Everwood. I loved that show. It was teen angsty and adult angsty and there was lots of family drama. Real family drama. Not the crap that 7th Heaven called family drama. Anyway, I watched the first episode of Gossip Girl and was not interested. At some point, I do intend to watch Gossip Girl since I hear good things about it now but that probably won't be for a long time. I stuck with 90210 for the better part of the first season, you know, if 90210 even had a better part of the first season. I missed the last two episodes of the first season and have no desire to watch them. No show on the CW has ever grabbed my attention. Enter Life Unexpected.

The commercials kept calling it Gilmore Girls meets Juno. I liked Gilmore Girls. I liked Juno. One would think that that is the reason I decided to check it out. Well, no, it's not. I don't really like when TV shows or movies rely on a comparison to other shows or movies in their ads. It seems like lazy advertising. Just show the clips and let them speak for themselves. The real reason I had to check out Life Unexpected was because I am a sucker for long lost kid storylines. True story. Anytime there is a long lost kid on any soap opera (except Bold & the Beautiful, even I have standards), I will start watching that soap. I did it with Guiding Light when Gus' long lost son Rafe showed up. I did it with One Life to Live when Rex's long lost son Shane came into the picture. And I've fully supported every time General Hospital has done it. In case you were wondering, I'm loving the current storyline with Olivia finally telling Sonny that Dante is his son. Of course she had to wait until after Sonny shot Dante because he found out that Dante was an undercover cop trying to arrest him for his mob activities. I really do love soap operas so much.

So Life Unexpected revolves around a teenage girl named Lux who has spent her whole life in foster care thanks to a heart defect that required lots of surgery and by the time she was healthy enough to be adopted, she was too old. At least that's what the show tells us and I've learned to just roll with it. Let's just consider it the technobabble of family drama. As Lux's 16th birthday approaches, she wants to be emancipated but apparently that cannot be granted because her birth parents never signed over their rights. So Lux takes it upon herself to get their signatures so she can be emancipated instead of a social worker contacting them because whether or not Lux wants emancipation, her birth parents need to terminate their rights, right? Isn't the state of Oregon (oh yeah, it's set in Portland) committing kidnapping by keeping her in foster care if her birth parents haven't signed this magical piece of paper? Oh, yeah, technobabble. I forgot.

The show begins with Cate Cassidy and her co-host/boyfriend Ryan doing their morning radio talk show. I think it's nice that the show is trying to raise awareness that there are still radio talk shows out there. Lux is listening to the show as her younger foster brother barges into the bathroom. Lux has an argument with her foster mom during which foster mom recites the ready made lines that Law & Order: SVU shipped over and says that the state doesn't pay her enough to take care of Lux. With that, Lux responds that she's going to be emancipated. Next time we see Lux, she's listening to Cate's talk show on her journey to emancipation. Lux shows up on her father's doorstep because she saw his name and address on a form on her social worker's desk. I need to point out that her father, Nate Basile better known as Baze, owns and lives above a bar. So this could not possibly have been his address in high school when Lux was born. Apparently someone updated the records to get his new contact information but never bothered to ask him to sign one little form. Well, Baze is surprised to find out that this girl standing in front of his bar is his daughter and so are his two roommates because that's how you know a 30 something year old guy is immature, he has roommates. Once inside, Lux tries to explain to the three slackers that she wants to be emancipated blah blah, sign here, and try to remember the name of the girl you knocked up. Baze's girlfriend enters. Oh yeah, Baze has a girlfriend who we briefly met earlier in the episode. She had made a joke about him being a slacker and then went for a run. Now she's back. Baze cleverly hides Lux behind his back as girlfriend goes into another room. Baze quickly blurts out that Cate Cassidy is Lux's mother as he tries to push her out the door but Lux is too busy fangirling out because she's a huge fan of Cate Cassidy. One of Baze's roommates who apparently went to the same high school is also shocked by this news. IMDb tells me that this roomate's name is Math. He's the more important of the two roommates because he is the moral compass who tells Baze to grow up. Girlfriend enters again, discovers truth, and demands that Baze call Cate to tell her himself.

Over at Cate's house, Ryan proposes. They have a fight because she's afraid of commitment. He does one of those completely cliche "I'm going to list all of your flaws but say I love you before each one and make it sound super romantic rather than extremely douchey." Ryan proposes again. Cate accepts. Phone rings. She's going to let it go to the machine and how cute is that that she still has a land line and an answering machine. But it's necessary so that she can hear it's Baze, pick up the phone, and then hang up on him.

Since they didn't get a hold of Cate, Lux ends up staying the night at Baze's place. They bond over watching adorable animals on YouTube. It's actually kind of sweet but I'm a sucker for overly cheesy things like that.

The next day, Baze and Lux are in the parking lot of Cate's radio station. Lux calls the station to talk to Cate. Um, she's doing a talk show right now. Could you wait a couple hours or at least request not to be put on the air? Anyway, Lux gets cold feet when she hears Cate's voice and hands the phone to Baze who says something like, "Hey, Cate. It's Nate Bazile from high school." I'm inclined to believe that "It's Nate Bazile" would have been enough since he got her pregnant and she seems to remember that based on her hanging up on him yesterday but again it's necessary for him to say this so Ryan can start asking questions about her in high school. He rattles off all of the things that could have happened in high school that would make Cate the way she is today. Ok, Ryan, I'm going to say this once, so listen. Wil Wheaton says, "Don't be a dick." Cate has a fear of commitment and won't let anyone close to her and won't say why. Maybe she was raped. Did you ever think of that? And you need to keep badgering her into talking about what happened to her to make her this way. Right now, Ryan, I think you're the biggest douche in a show that has three slackers living above a bar. It might be time to reevaluate your life. Anyway, Ryan hits the nail on the head when he says, "What? Were you one of those girls that got knocked up after prom?" Cate has tears in her eyes and Baze comments that it was the Winter Formal. Cate runs out and confronts Baze. She yells a lot before he finally steps aside to introduce her to her daughter. They get down to the business of signing the paper and Cate is shocked that Lux was never adopted. Lux needs to get to her social worker's office and Cate volunteers to drive her. Here is where we discover that Lux had a hole in her heart and that's why she wasn't adopted. Cate tries to get motherly but Lux is having none of that.

Lux's court date for emancipation arrives. Cate and Baze show up separately. The judge calls complete crap on Lux's plan for emancipation. The judge is slightly nicer than Judge Judy. She decides to place Lux in the temporary care of her biological parents. As they exit the court house, Cate and Baze argue about high school and all that drama so Lux yells at them and walks away in a huff. Lux returns to her foster home to discover that her foster mother has packed up all her things in anticipation of her emancipation and their fight over it. I guess it's nice that she packed them up in suit cases instead of throwing everything out the window in garbage bags (which is actually a decent way of moving).

Back at Baze's bar, Cate, who just had a fight with Ryan in which she gave him back the ring, and Baze commiserate over Lux even though they had just been yelling at each other over the same thing. We discover a little to much about Lux's conception like it lasted less than the length of "Two Princes" and took place in Baze's mom's mini van. Oh, and Cate lost her virginity that night. Anyway, all this reminiscing causes them to start kissing and drunkenly stumble to the bedroom. The next morning, Cate delivers the traditional "This never happened" speech and leaves only to trip over Lux who slept in front of the bar waiting for Baze. Lux and Cate have a conversation which ends with Cate deciding that Lux will stay with her. Cate goes to work, proposes to Ryan and tells him she wants to take care of Lux with his help.

Cate and Lux arrive home where Baze and his friends are waiting to wish Lux a happy birthday. Ryan joins the party. There's some tension. Lux blows out her candles but already has her wish because she has a family. Except that the next two episodes deal a lot with the fact that Lux felt she already had a family with her fellow orphans that she planned to move in with once she was emancipated. But I guess they didn't have that in mind when they wrote the pilot.

It was super cheesy but I liked. It looks like there will be lots of family drama and angst. It's totally my type of show. If you've made it this far, congratulations. I swear I'll keep the next two episodes brief.

The second episode revolves mostly around Cate and Baze prepare for their home inspections by Lux's social worker. The social worker has to decide if they are fit to be foster parents. Again, I'm confused. They didn't terminate their parental rights. Lux is still a minor. They are her biological parents. Is a social worker still needed. If Baze and Cate are willing to take care of her, isn't this case closed? So Cate is freaking out and trying to make sure that Baze is taking this seriously.

While all this is going on, Lux visits her orphan friends who are super pissed that she actually wants to stay with her parents. They manage to convince her that she should get her stuff from Cate's house and move in with them. When the orphan gang is in Cate's house, one of them picks up Cate's engagement ring with the intention of stealing it. Lux stops him and admits that she actually wants to stay with Cate. Tasha, Lux's BFF, pretty much tells Lux that Cate's going to end up kicking her out the first time she does something wrong. Tasha and Lux stand there awkwardly enough after their fight to hear Cate on the radio read a statement that she did not have a baby in high school because apparently that is too big of a scandal for the local radio station. Lux feels unwanted all over again. Way to go, Cate, you know that Lux is a big fan of the show. How was she not going to hear about this? Cate comes home and can't find her engagement ring. The next day, Lux blames her friends and demands the ring back. They can't believe that she would pick her mom over them and tell her they didn't take it. They are so done with her.

Meanwhile, Baze is still being a slacker and not prepared for the social worker. Cate and Baze end up having a very public fight about him not wanting this in front of both Lux and the social worker but Lux one ups Cate with the revelation that she heard what Cate said on the radio. Things look grim for Cate and Baze. But it'll all be okay when they track the social worker down the next day and give her the paper work she needed and a speech about wanting to be parents. Cate pulls the "I never would have given her up if I knew this was the life she would have" card but none of it matters. Lux told the social worker that she wants to go back to the group home for girls" and obviously a 16 year old girl knows what is best for herself.

Lux decided to apologize to her friends but in the process discovered (surprise, surprise) that Tasha stole the ring with the hopes that Cate would kick Lux out over it. Little did Tasha know that Cate never even asked Lux about the ring. Lux is angry and leaves because that is the only way to leave a room on this show. Cate arrives at the orphan's apartment later to find Lux and Tasha tells her that she knows Lux would be better off with Cate.

Lux goes back to Cate's house and Ryan shows her that he and Cate had been getting a room ready for her in the attic. Cate arrives and they bond. At some point, Math gave Baze a lecture about growing up and taking responsibility but I honestly don't remember when that happened so let's say it goes here. Cate tells her listeners about her daughter on the radio after the judge grants them custody. Cate gets primary physical custody since Baze lives over a bar and that's apparently not the best environment for a teenager. Anyway, they will all live happily ever after until the next episode when Baze's parents discover that they have a granddaughter over the radio. Oh, the drama.

Really, this one will be shorter. Episode 3. So Cate is taking calls about being a parent on the air when her sister Abbie calls in to give Cate a hard time about not telling the family that the daughter she gave up years ago has come back into her life. Abbie turns the conversation into the direction of the father who Abbie believes was the school mascot because apparently no one in this family has a problem with discussing personal matters on the air. Ryan reveals that the father is Baze and the sister pretty much flips out because she had a crush on him in high school. Anyway, thanks to this conversation, Baze's father hears about Lux and blackmails Baze into bringing Lux and Cate over to dinner or else he won't lend Baze any money ($3200 to be exact) to pay the rent on his bar. Baze's father could not express his disappointment in his son anymore than he does in this scene, well until the dinner scene at least. Baze tells his father that he didn't even know Cate was pregnant in high school because apparently that makes him less of a disappointment.

Elsewhere, Cate decides to transfer Lux to a better school, the high school that she and Baze went to and apparently where Math works. If he teaches Math, I will punch someone. Cate does not discuss this with Lux or Baze and Lux is not happy because she will not be able to see Tasha anymore. I kinda thought we were done with that ring stealing liar but I guess not. Also, Baze and Cate meet Lux's boyfriend Bug and they don't like him. Bug thinks he and Lux and their friends should take Lux's savings ($3000 to be exact) and move somewhere else together. Are we seriously still talking about this? Didn't she decide in the last episode that she wanted to stay with her parents? And didn't she decide it in the episode before that?

Baze, Cate, and Lux go to the Basile mansion for dinner. Did I mention that his parents are wealthy. Turns out the Basiles invited Cate's sister and mother as well. They apparently are all staging an intervention about what horrible parents Baze and Cate will be. This intervention may have gone slightly better if Lux was not invited but what do I know about interventions. Cate's mom suggests she raise Lux and Baze's parents suggests that they raise Lux since they are the only one's in the room capable of being good parents to which Cate responds, "Have you met your son?" I get that this is the dinner conversation that would have happened 16 years ago but Baze and Cate are in their 30s, they can handle a kid. Baze's father makes a comment about Cate not telling Baze about the baby in high school. Cate looks sad. Baze confesses he knew. In all this commotion, Lux has left with Bug. She goes home and gets her money commenting about how being treated badly by foster parents is bad enough but to be treated that way by your real parents is horrible. You see what they did there? We're supposed to think she's talking about her treatment by her own parents but she's really talking about Baze and his dad.

The next day, she brings the money to Baze's dad telling him that it was from Baze. She bitches him out for being a crappy dad then leaves. Baze's dad later shows up at the bar, kinda apologizes, tells Baze about Lux delivering the money without knowing it was Lux's money and says that Lux is welcome at their house anytime. At home, Cate promises to Lux that they will make decisions as a family. Cate wants to have another family dinner but with Lux's family aka the orphans. Baze promises Lux that he will pay her back because she shouldn't have to take care of him. It's okay. She doesn't mind. Time to be a big happy family again until the next time that Lux feels like she's unwanted.

So, I guess it is a little like Gilmore Girls except the role of Lorelai Gilmore is broken down into two characters. The responsible, neurotic mom part will be played by Cate while the immature, "I'm not a parent, more like your friend because my parents are rich dicks" part will be played by Baze. He's got the rich parents and you know at some point he will borrow money from them for Lux's education or something and they will all be forced to go to Friday dinners. Also, Baze is playing the Luke and Christopher part. Instead of a diner, it's a bar that he owns and lives above. And the whole not helping when Cate got pregnant is just like Christopher. I guess Ryan is also sorta like Luke because he's going to help take care of Lux. Whatever, I like it so far and will keep watching. I might keep writing reviews/recaps if the spirit moves me.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Jesus of Suburbia Superstar

Warning: This post is not particularly funny. It is extremely reflective. I also do a bit of whining. It occasionally shifts focus a lot.

Since the Grammys, I've been thinking a lot about the American Idiot Broadway musical. I've already posted about the music during my pre-teen years and how the Backstreet Boys pretty much defined that time of my life. If I needed to pick an album to define my high school career, it would be American Idiot which came out at the beginning of my junior year. I was not a punk chick in the slightest so I don't really know why I was drawn to American Idiot, but I was. I probably listened to "Jesus of Suburbia" as many times as I listened to "Defying Gravity" (fun fact: I bought American Idiot and the Wicked soundtrack on the same day). I have a fondness for American Idiot. I adore Broadway musicals. So why am I so against the idea of American Idiot the musical?

Surprisingly, I think I can answer that question. It's because I tie that album so closely to my time in high school. To me, it is distinctly 2004. I know it's only six years ago and I always talk about things from then like it wasn't that long ago. But it kinda was. The attitudes in 2004 were different than they are now. The invasion of Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction. Mustard gas. Freedom fries. Most people, if not everyone, now agrees that invading Iraq was a bad idea. In 2003 and 2004, it was Unamerican to disagree. Just ask the Dixie Chicks. Around this time was when I (and I imagine a lot of other people) started watching the Daily Show on a regular basis. They told it like it was on the Daily Show. They acknowledged the ridiculousness of the mainstream media when the mainstream media reported the "facts." The songs "American Idiot" and "Holiday" reflect this attitude about the media. Sure, you can try to tell me that the media is still the same and the Daily Show still does that. But it was different then. First of all, the Daily Show still had a couch for the guests to sit on because it was a late night talk show that also happened to talk about politics among other things. Secondly, now most people have learned to be wary of the mainstream media (thanks in part to the Daily Show) but in 2004, we still had complete faith in CNN.

And back then, the big fashion and lifestyle trend was to be emo and/or punk. Now, it's to be a hipster which from my understanding requires tighter pants and slightly less emotion than being emo required. In my mind, I had a clear picture of Jesus of Suburbia, St. Jimmy and Whatsername. Since then, those trends have gone away. What I'm saying is that the fashion, attitudes and tone of 2004 was different than it is now. In my opinion, the American Idiot musical is either five years too late or twenty years too early.

Honestly, I'm not a huge Green Day fan. I like Green Day just fine. I have nothing against them. I just didn't run out and buy 21st Century Breakdown when it came out. Wikipedia tells me that that album is also a rock opera. So American Idiot is a rock opera? And 21st Century Breakdown is a rock opera? So let's combine the two and make a Broadway rock opera? I know it wouldn't have been as long as they might want, but they should do two separate rock operas as they are written. I feel that to combine what is obviously two different stories into one will lose something.

What it comes down to for me is that I am graduating from college in May. Things, such as American Idiot going to Broadway and my mom being on Facebook (which will be another post entirely), have got me reflecting upon my life over the past five to seven years. A lot has changed. American Idiot was high school for me. For interest in American Idiot to be renewed seems wrong. Maybe I'm starting my post-grad, quarterlife, Demi Moore in St. Elmo's Fire crisis. Maybe I'm selfish. I just picture a new wave of teenagers becoming obsessed with American Idiot. But not American Idiot the album. They will be obsessed with American Idiot the musical. And maybe they will have a connection to it like I had a connection to the album. But I feel a claim over it. There are feelings that I had when listening to it based on the events that I lived through and those feelings cannot be recreated for a new wave of teens.

They've already stolen vampires from us, do they really need to steal American Idiot too?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Advice to College Freshmen

Throughout my three and a half years of college, I've learned a lot. No, not that kind of learning, silly. I go to a liberal arts college. I've learned a lot about college. If nothing else comes from my college experience besides a degree that won't get me a job, I can at least spread my wisdom on to future generations.

When I started college, I felt I was not prepared. I'd heard stories and gotten advice from people but it did not help at all. Now, I know why it did not help. Because they were lying. Everyone, except me, is going to lie to you about college. Why? They can not find a job that requires their degree and start applying to various service positions . They do not want to compete with you for the job so they send you to college for four years with fairy tales that they have created in the hours of free time they have between writing cover letters and going to job interviews.

I promise I'm not lying to you. I want to help you. I know what you're thinking- "But you admittedly fail at life. Why should I listen to you?" Because the best advice on how to succeed comes from a failure. Ask someone who is successful how they did it. They'll say something like "I prayed and trusted in God" or "With lots of support from my family" or "I was lucky" or "lots of hard work and determination." I call bologna on all these responses. I've failed and can tell you how not to fail. And if you don't fail, then you succeed. It's sound logic. You're welcome.

Myth: It's all right to be undecided about your major when you are a freshman.

Truth: Choose your major by the end of the first semester of freshman year at the latest.

They are going to tell you that it's natural to remain undecided in your freshman year. Um, no. First day of classes, every other freshman you meet will tell you their chosen major, minor and/or double major, and where they are going to go to grad school in four years. You're still trying to decide whether chicken or beef is your favorite flavor of ramen.

If you don't choose your major by the end of fall semester freshman year, you are so totally screwed. There is always going to be a course you should have taken but didn't that was only offered your first semester or you won't be able to get enough credits in your major/minor or something. It's a known fact that the only thing that all the offices and departments in colleges communicate about is how to screw over students.

Myth: Never put a paper off until the night before it is due.

Truth: Always put a paper off until the night/morning before it is due.

Professors will tell you that there is no way to finish this paper the night before. It is not possible. You will fail. People have tried and they have failed. Except, people have tried and they've done just fine. You see, most students believe that this is a warning from the professor. It's not. It's a challenge. It's impossible to finish this paper the night before and get a good grade? I'll show you, Professor. Just think how impressed they will be that you were able to write something that brilliant in one night. They will have new found respect for you. They will want you to give them advice about writing papers. Also, you get to use the old "I have to write this 10 page paper that's due tomorrow" as an excuse to get out of floor meetings or hanging out with the crazy person down the hall or talking to your parents on the phone.

To be fair, the maximum you can do the night before is 10-12 pages. Possibly 15 pages if you're really good and don't require sleep.

Myth: Real college students drink every night especially on the nights before big papers are due (see above).

Truth: There will be little to no time to drink. Also, Thirsty Thursdays are for douchebags.

Real college students do not drink every night unless they are alcoholics. Lots of college students drink over the weekend. A good number drink on Thursday nights. We call those people douchebags. Well, not everyone who drinks on Thursday is a douche but most are. The people who still have classes on Friday but drink on Thursday night anyway are total douches. The people who have parties on Thursday nights because they don't have class on Friday but fail to take into consideration that other people on the floor might have class and not want drunk people being all kinds of obnoxious right outside their door are complete douchebags. The people who when drunk on any night of the week decide that the funnest thing in the whole world would be to set off a fire extinguisher or punch holes in the walls are equal parts complete douchebag and total asshat. Do not be these people.

Myth: High school sucked and college will be so much better.

Truth: High school sucked, college is more of the same suckiness and chances are real life is not better.

This myth will not die. First, we're told that high school is the best time of your life. Half way through high school, they finally let us in on the joke that that was a lie. But don't worry. College is really the best time of your life. We are total suckers for believing their lies again.

I enjoyed high school but would not say it was the best time of my life. At least, I hope that was not the best time of my life. There was a lot of unnecessary drama among my group of friends. People needed to mature and the consensus seemed to be that people would stop being immature once they entered college. False. People who were immature in high school stay immature in college. It's also likely that they will have access to alcohol (see above).

Immaturity + alcohol = unnecessary drama

College is like high school but worse because you are paying lots of money to be there. Also, your stupidity is documented on Facebook. But I guess that point is moot because everyone is on Facebook and networks don't matter anymore. I think most people stopped posting drunk pictures from frat parties when their grandma friended them on Facebook.

Myth: You will learn so much from hearing other students' opinions.

Truth: Most people's opinions are wrong and you will learn nothing from them

Just because someone is in college does not mean they are smart or enlightened. But because they are in college, they believe that everything they say is brilliant. Anyone who thinks they are saying something that is brilliant is not saying anything that is worth hearing. They will think that what you have to say is stupid and that you are the most ignorant person in the world. You will not care at all. You just want to take a nap. You have three options to get out of this situation: 1) Debate them. Eventually one of you will run out of things to say. Or someone else will join the debate and you can leave while they are distracted. 2) Nod your head as though you agree and leave while they are patting themselves on the back for converting you over to their side. 3) Punch them in the face. Wait a moment as everyone around you applauds. Then leave.

Myth: All your college/ university cares about is giving you a good education.

Truth: All they want is your money and will sacrifice your education to get it.

When you go for a campus visit or when you go to orientation, everyone who gets paid by the university will tell you how education is the most important thing and everyone there is there to make sure that you get the best education. They may even throw around phrases like "affordable education." They know that this is what your parents want to hear. They know that this is what the Tracy Flicks of the world want to hear. The thing is, it's not true.

Your university worships money. Sure, they will give you an education in exchange for thousands of dollars. If this were a MasterCard commercial, they would say that a good education is priceless. But colleges and universities around the world have managed to put large price tags on education. It's a clever scheme. Make you think that an education is so invaluable then they offer to give you an education and charge obscene amounts of money.

If you do not pay the obscene amounts of money, they get very angry. They won't let you register for classes. They will withhold your grades. They will start charging you late fees because the best way to get a poor person to pay their already late bill is to charge them more. If you can, pay your tuition on line because the internet is nicer than the people who work in your university's office. They just don't seem to understand that some people just don't have the money especially in these difficult economic times. Fast food places had recession deals on their food long before my college even acknowledged that there was a recession.

Myth: You will gain the Freshman 15.

Truth: You are more likely to lose 10-15 pounds.

Everyone talks about the Freshman 15. Because obviously the first thing you want to do when getting to college is eat nothing but junk food. Well, yes, you will eat junk food and probably more than you would eat at home. But junk food can get to be expensive. You know what's cheap. Ramen. Also, as a freshman, you will eat most of your meals in the dining hall. The food will not be that good but the upperclassmen will insist that it is better than what it used to be. Chances are that you won't overeat.

You may think that you will exercise to make sure that you don't gain weight. This will not happen. You will take a nap instead. Never fear, you will spend a large part of the first semester running around campus trying to figure out where you are. That counts as exercise, right? You will also take the stairs often because you don't have time to wait for the elevator since you forgot to set an alarm to wake you up from your nap. You'll be 10 pounds lighter just in time to gain it all back over Christmas break.

Myth: Finals week is so stressful.

Truth: Finals week is when you will finally have time to go to the movies and play video games.

Yes, you will have spent large portions of your weekends playing video games but finals week is when you finally can beat those video games. You only need to go to each class only once that week if you have to go at all. You might have to sacrifice a night or two of finals week to write a paper or two or three. But the rest of the time is fair game to do whatever. No more required reading. You can read your comics for hours if you want. You can have a dance party. You can take a nap.

Other helpful hints:

Do not take a nap in your dorm room.

The dorms are the worst place to take a nap. It will be too noisy. You may still want to take a nap there because that is where your bed is. However, if you want a quiet place to nap, go to the library. Now, I know that the library is not always the quietest place but there is always a quiet corner somewhere. Look for the section with the oldest and biggest books. That is the quietest corner. You will be able to identify it by all the people taking naps there.

Do not confront your roommate if you are having a problem with them.

It is likely that you are living in a closet sized room with this person. Problems with them will occur. It will be their fault. If you bring it up, they will probably just get angrier because they think since it is their room too, they should be able to do whatever they like even if it is incredibly annoying. Instead, have a passive aggressive fight with them. If they want the window open, close it. If they want to listen to music without head phones, play your music louder. The only exception to this rule is if your roommate eats your Girl Scout cookies. The relationship between a person and their Girl Scout cookies is sacred. If someone violates this relationship, that person is responsible for what happens to them.

Buy lots of underwear.

Most colleges send you a recommended list of supplies that you will need when living in a dorm. Ignore this list. All you really need besides things you already own is lots more underwear. When you get to school, you will discover that you own lots of shirts. You will also discover that you do not care about wearing the same pants 7 times before washing them. How often you have to do laundry depends upon how many pairs of underwear you own. The best time to do laundry is Friday night. Sure, you might want to have fun on a Friday, but you won't have to wait for a washer or dryer and no one will take your clothes out because you didn't come back the second the timer went off. Sacrifice a Friday every once in a while. If you have lots of underwear, you might only have to do laundry once a semester.

Congratulations on your acceptance to college. Good luck. It will be the best time of your life.