I’ve discussed before how Dan Harmon (creator of Community, co-writer for Monster House) has distilled the Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth into a very basic tool for describing the arcs of a story. Harmon prefers to see his story structure as a circle, whereas I believe that it is in fact a Cosine Wave. Since I’ve posted the above gif I’ve gotten quite a few notes about it and I thought I’d expand on my idea of why Harmon’s circle best fits a Cosine.
Smoke it all up, by the ounce / Melbourne girls, they love to bounce / Jose in my glass like a real champ / Take it down, never chilled, like a real man / No chase face, looking I’m real man / Fuck it if I get ‘em too drunk, I don’t feel bad
Transcribed and annotated this song for RapGenius. Now I can finally say I’m part of The Game.
With their 24th numbered release, the Kidz Bop Kids once again deliver exactly what their niche audience has come to expect: an amazingly consistent batch of catchy choruses and would-be pop anthems that never reach their full potential because they are inexplicably, inexcusably, and exclusively targeted toward tweens.
As always, I’ll try not to spend too much of this review dwelling on the fact that almost any given track off this record could have been something you wouldn’t be surprised to see among the Top 40 had the ghost-producers of the supergroup elected to instead turn it over to one of today’s current pop superstars. By now, the Kids’ discography contains so many mishandled gems that I’d prefer not to frustrate myself further by wasting more words on the subject. However, Bop 24 is such a strong release - perhaps the Kids’ strongest since the triumphant yet criminally under-appreciated 17 - that I cannot help but groan every time I think about what this album could have been.
Still, having said that, I whole-heartedly recommend this album to fans of previous Bops as well as to fans of pop music in general.
In middle school I was made to fill out a worksheet. On it was a list of values and the purpose of the exercise was the rank them in order of importance so that I might better understand my own priorities. I was a middle school student in a seventh period health class, so my number one priority at the time was getting home and watching a new episode of Dragonball Z, but since there was no item on the list even approximately close to that, I decided (unlike most of my peers) to take the assignment seriously.
A lot of people write me asking for tips on how to be cool. Well, I don’t think being cool is really something that can be learned, but I figured I’d give it a shot. Here are some quick and easy ways to be cooler:
My Earnest Plea to Lehigh University Parking Services
[Context: This is the unedited appeal I submitted to parking services re: the $50 parking ticket I received today for parking at a Brown meter before 4:00pm. The ticket was issued at 3:07pm.]
Some have proposed that the definition of insanity is “attempting the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” If this definition holds any weight, then I am pleading innocence of this offense on the grounds of insanity.
I hope you are reading this. My ideal reader for this piece is an actual person under thirty years old who self-identifies as conservative. I would like it very much if this letter found readers beyond my typical (and beloved) echo chamber of liberal comedians and comedy fans. If you’re reading this and you’re not a young conservative, I’ll bet you’re friends with one on Facebook and I would love it if you could pass this along to them.
First off: I in no way mean for this to be patronizing. I’m not mocking you, young conservative. I know what it is to be a young conservative. I was one.
When I was in high school, in the early part of the first George W. Bush presidency, it seemed kind of cool and punk to me to identify as conservative. I didn’t agree with their social policies, but that wasn’t the point. The point was, what if all my liberal high-school-kid friends were wrong? It was a ton of fun to think of myself as the sole voice of reason among a bunch of wrong-headed young people who hadn’t read the same blogs I had, and hadn’t been introduced to Ayn Rand by their girlfriend last summer the way I had.
Looking back on all that, on the times I argued with my History teacher in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other things, I am deeply ashamed. And this shame comes not from the fact that I now have different political beliefs, different political beliefs shared, in some form, by almost all of my colleagues and friends. I almost always relish having a minority opinion. It’s a stubborn, age-resistant part of my personality. I am still the guy who loves hating the thing everyone else likes, or liking the thing everyone else hates. I didn’t like the movie DRIVE very much. I know. Come at me. So I’d be the first person to want to have a political belief counter to the ones treasured by all my friends. I argue most frequently with people I’m actually in total agreement with. I’m just that asshole. So it’s not that I felt the need to join the herd and now that I have, I’m ashamed to have ever felt differently than I do now.
I am ashamed because I accepted into my heart and head a system of thought I now believe to be, to borrow a term from my old friend Ayn Rand, anti-life: that government should only exist to make it easy for businesses to do business, the idea that it is our civic duty to have no civic duty. I no longer believe that the way to make things better for everyone is to let people with money do whatever they want, whenever they want. I feel I’ve earned the crap out of this belief, given that I used to believe precisely the opposite, and I’ve taken a long journey to the side I stand on now.
And I urge you, before you dismiss me as a long-haired Hollywood goofball liberal, to read on, and to listen to me in every bit the earnest that I am writing to you. Please don’t pull the dismissive ripcord in your mind, the one labeled “You’re just saying that because you’re biased, etc…” that all of us use every day to reject the idea that someone who disagrees with us may have a point. This ripcord is cynicism, plain and simple, and it mars political discourse and if we continue to pull it every time someone starts to say something that doesn’t jibe with what we already think, life on this planet will soon be quite literally impossible.
Me Having a Conversation With the Song "Fireflies" by Owl City
Song:You would not believe your eyes if ten million fireflies lit up the world as I fell asleep.
Me:You're absolutely right, that would be ridiculous. Actually, it would probably be the most awe-inspiring thing I've ever seen or ever will see.
Song:'Cause they'd fill the open air and leave teardrops everywhere. You'd think me rude but I would just stand and stare.
Me:Okay, for starters, no, I wouldn't think you rude in the slightest. I've already confessed that the sight of these fireflies would likely be one of the most incredible things imaginable, and now you're acting as if I'd somehow take offense if you took the time to take them in, instead of doing what you were already doing, which was sleeping? What kind of shitty person would I have to be to find that impolite?
Song:I'd like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly.
Me:What? Why? What the hell does that have to do with the fireflies? Or anything, for that matter?
Song:It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep, 'cause everything is never as it seems.
Me:You alright, dude? Suddenly you sound borderline suicidal.
Song:'Cause I'd get a thousand hugs from ten thousand lightning bugs as they tried to teach me how to dance.
Me:That's quite possibly the single gayest sentence I've ever heard, but it certainly doesn't seem like a reasonable cause for suicidal ideation. Also, how and why did you decide that only one in ten fireflies would opt to hug you?
Song:A foxtrot above my head, a sock hop beneath my bed, a disco ball is just hanging by a thread.
Me:Now you've lost me.
Song:I'd like to make myself believe that planet Earth turns slowly. It's hard to say that I'd rather stay awake when I'm asleep 'cause everything is never as it seems when I fall asleep.
Me:Back to this again? Listen, I looked it up: the world is turning at around 1,040 miles per hour at the equator. Hardly a slow speed. And why would you even want it to turn any slower? I imagine the consequences of Earth's rotation slowing by even a fraction would be catastrophic for the ecosystem and all life on the planet. Maybe you'd rather just believe misinformation? Sorry, but I really don't get it.
Song:Leave my door open just a crack. (Please take me away from here.) 'Cause I feel like such an insomniac. (Please take me away from here.)
Me:Jesus Christ, did you just ask me to take you away? Are you in trouble? Stop screwing around with this fireflies bullshit - if you need help, please, just say so.
Song:Why do I tire of counting sheep (Please take me away from here.) when I'm far too tired to fall asleep?
Me:Okay, I heard that. I'm calling the police.
Song:To ten million fireflies, I'm weird 'cause I hate goodbyes, I got misty eyes as they said farewell...
Me:Hello? 911? I've got a guy here and based on the way he's talking it seems as if he may be having a stroke. Yes. No, he just now started asking me to "take him away." I think he's suicidal. Please hurry.
Song:But I'll know where several are if my dreams get real bizarre. 'Cause I saved a few and I keep them in a jar.
Me:It seems as if his hallucinations are getting more serious. I'm gonna get you help, buddy, don't worry. Just keep talking about the fireflies, the ambulance is on the way. The fireflies are probably gonna die in that jar if you don't poke some holes in it, though.
Song:Why are you still talking to me? I'm over three years old. Maybe you're the one who needs help.
In Memory of AOL 7.0 or: Using the Internet Used to Take Balls
I feel bad for everyone born after 1995. Sure, they’ll more than likely outlive me - assuming, of course, that we don’t reach The Singularity by 2045 as is anticipated - and maybe they’ll get to see some pretty cool things that I won’t. But there’s one thing they were never able to experience that makes me pity them: the early days of the Internet.*
Anyone born after 1995, and maybe even a bit earlier than that, never got to experience the Beta version of the Internet. By the time they were old enough to meaningfully interface with a computer, broadband was beginning to take foot. By then, the Internet was something your parents were probably familiar with. I’d be remiss even now to say that the Internet has been tamed, but by then it was no longer the wilderness it once was. The Internet of my youth was the Louisiana Purchase, the last frontier, an infinite expanse of endless possibilities. By the time people had switched over to dedicated web browsers (Internet Explorer, Mozilla, NetScape) and the walled gardens had crumbled, the mystery had been lost.
Me:not a touchscreen or anything... it's just like a dot matrix display almost, maybe a color screen maybe not, but really just a line
Me:it only has like 1 or 2 buttons
Me:it always shows the time and u can toggle thru modes where it would scroll whatever data from ur phone
Me:u get a txt, it shows up
Me:no games, no apps, no bullshit like that
Me:it primarily just shows text
Me:who's calling, what song is playing, maybe twitter feed
Me:and the time
Me:it's primarily a fashion thing, more cool than useful
Me:$500 is totally reasonable for a fashionable watch
Me:maybe even more
Me:good, don't u think?
For the next 15 minutes we talked about this new product and cool ways it could be used. If it was equipped with NFC, hand-to-hand-contact could be the next Bump and Google Wallet would become even easier. If Siri were more sophisticated you could simply query Siri from the watch and she could speak a plaintext answer in response and it would be just like something out of James Bond. We discussed whether it would be a better fit for Apple or Google. Paul began looking for parts from which he could build the first prototype. It was a really good idea and I knew it.
I didn't know it was ten-million-dollars good, though. It turns out I had independently come up with the Pebble, the most funded Kickstart project of all time with over $10 million in backing. The similarities between it and the product I'd envisioned were so alarmingly great that you'd have to assume I'd stolen the idea. Barring any subconscious knowledge about the Pebble that I'm unaware I had, though, I'd never heard about this product for the five or so months since it's been public.
I was THIS CLOSE to a ten million dollar idea. Last night I actually lost sleep over the notion that I probably won't have another idea as good for some time, if ever.
Everyone’s talking about this Ryan Lochte guy. Full disclosure: I have zero idea who this clown is, but he doesn’t sound so great to me. Why, here are some random activities I can probably school him in lol! ;-)
“I wonder what it’s like to die. I wonder how I’m going to die. I wonder why, knowing that we’re going to die, we’re not all freaking out more than we are. I guess because we’re not all going to die at the same time. I read once that women, after giving birth, have a special chemical released in their brain that makes them forget how painful it was so that they have more children. Maybe we have a chemical that makes us just afraid of death enough to go to work but not afraid of death enough to not go to work.”—Dan Harmon (via havingchanged)
An Open Letter to The Guy Who Runs Karaoke at The Irish Cottage
In the interest of full disclosure, I’d like to volunteer that at the time of my writing this, I’m a bit drunk. That should come as little to no surprise to you, though, taking into account when last we spoke. I wasn’t as drunk then as I am now, but I’m sure this too will not come as a surprise. I’m hard pressed to believe that I’m the first person you’ve driven to drinking his or her sorrows away on a Thursday night.
I’ve been coming to karaoke semi-frequently for the past two months. You know me and I know you. I was even beginning to think we were becoming friends; I never asked anything of you without a smile or an approving nod. Sure, sometimes I may have slurred my song requests, but I feel that I’ve more than made up for those times on the numerous occassions I’ve had to show you how to operate your own (uncomplicated) software. For someone who presumably spends so much time typing in song titles, you’re surprisingly clumsy at it. And did I ever say anything until now? No!
Leave your bitching in the pussy cabinet, boys, because tonight it’s a Dude’s Night Out, and we’re heading to the movies. Yes, the movies. Don’t worry I ain’t talking about some limp-dick chick flick like Titanic. That’s why we’re leaving the ladies at home. I’m talking about two words: MAGIC…
The Exhaustive Guide to Fixing Africa In Just a Few Clicks
NOTE: If you are not one of the more than 80 million people who has already seen the Kony 2012 video that has been making its way around Facebook, then you must either watch it right now (Literally right now, at this second. Yes, it’s 30 minutes long, but if you honestly believe that you’re so impossibly busy that you cannot spare any given 30 minutes during your day to watch an Internet video if it means saving thousands of innocent CHILDREN from sexual slavery [and worse, if you even thought that was possible!] then your lack of empathy is so severe that I question whether you still qualify as a member of the human species) or defriend me immediately for I will simply not permit myself to be socially connected with someone as stunningly ignorant as yourself.
Hey guys, it’s me again with another helpful guide on how to stop making a fool of yourself on Facebook. Today’s lesson: Haters.
Let’s begin at the beginning. What exactly are haters?
Haters are your motivators because they make you famous. (Did you know that you’re famous?) They are often Haitian, and no matter what you do, they gonna hate. They are totally fake cowards who only talk about you behind your back and so you don’t need (and almost certainly don’t have) any evidence that they actually exist in order to blame them for a myriad of possible problems you’re having. They’re out there and they’re just seething at the notion of your happiness.
Lehigh Prunes Alcoholic Student Population by Only Offering Antibiotics on Day After Le-Laf
Just something I wrote a little while back:
In an attempt to decrease the amount of alcoholic students at Lehigh, officials from the Health and Wellness Center have chosen the day after the Lehigh-Lafayette game as the date on which they will distribute preventative medicine, in hopes that those students who are hungover will not bother to get them.
Two nights ago I’m playing $1/$2 NL - that’s Texas Hold’em poker, for the uninitiated among you. There are only 2 guys at the table that I believe to be good. They both have pretty big stacks (~$700) and they both act before me. I play my game, catch some cards, and start doing fairly well. I’m a tight player, and one of the good players takes notice. “You can’t bluff, kid,” he says to me. “I just don’t think you can do it. You’re the tightest player at this table.” He’s basically right, and I don’t really care. I don’t plan on playing against him when there are plenty of other fish at the table.
NBC has pulled “Community” from their midseason lineup. In doing so, they have pulled me, along with thousands of others, from their viewership while proving once and for all that they are the pizza burn on the roof of the world’s mouth.
By the time you are reading this, Facebook will have already released their biggest and most revolutionary update yet – the Facebook Timeline. I know this because, according to Timeline, I am already using it. In the future.
11/04/12 UPDATE: Well, over a year later, I finally got around to responding. Having heard Steve’s side of the story, I can say that I am now confident our encounter was simply a misunderstanding, and not, as I initially portrayed it, evidence of him being anything less than a good, honest guy. I’ve struck my post to prevent it from leading any future readers to make the same false conclusions about him that I made at the time of its writing.
10/28/11 UPDATE: Steve actually wound up reading this and responding. A summary of his response, as well as my response to his response, is forthcoming.
About a week ago I heard that Steve Hofstetter was coming to Lehigh. This gave me an idea. I’ve been meaning to break into stand-up comedy for a while now (I have a .txt file with pages and pages of undeveloped “bits”; random things that I think are funny and have potential for my routine) but I haven’t gotten around to actually sitting down and creating an act. I’ve heard numerous stories about would-be comedians approaching stand-ups after shows in order to get advice about their material, though, so I figured that this was as good an opportunity as any to write down my stuff and see if I could come up with anything worth presenting to him.
I got down three pages of my best jokes and printed them out. I wrote a short paragraph at the top and signed my name in pen at the bottom. In retrospect, it was actually kind of childish the way I’d presented it, but that word works well to describe my wide-eyed naivete at the time. I joined University Productions just so it would be guaranteed that I’d have an opportunity to speak to Steve after the show. (“I have Steve’s check, so he isn’t going anywhere.” ~The girl in charge of UP) The night of the show, I left with my roommate and fantasized about how Steve would fall in love with my material and invite me to be his personal joke-consultant.
The show was great. He was funny, as expected. He called on me during the audience-participation segment of the show, and though I did my best to set him up for an easy joke (“What’s the worst a joke of yours has ever gone over?”), he didn’t deal with it very well. He was actually kind of dismissive of my question, but not in a rude way or anything. Regardless, it wasn’t a negative interaction.
After the show, it turns out that I didn’t even need to have joined UP in order to speak with him. He, along with several of the opening comics, was just chilling in the hallway selling shirts and CDs. Seeing as there was a crowd around him, I decided that I’d maybe just go up and say hi, then broach the subject of my jokes after everyone else had left. My roommate wanted to buy a CD, though, which gave me the idea of buying a t-shirt in order to build some good will with him.
Some background: I owe my roommate $150 for a television and I only had $50 bills in my wallet. T-shirts and CDs cost $20/ea.
I suggest that I pay for both the shirt and the CD, that way Steve need not waste time making change and I can simultaneously pay off some of my debt. My roommate agrees. I approach Steve and make some small-talk (“Great show, big fan, etc…”) as I ask for the CD and t-shirt. As I’m doing this, I notice a sign reading something along the lines of “2 for $30 special,” which I hadn’t noticed before. Steve hands me my stuff and I hand him a $50. As he’s making change, my roommate takes the CD and the following exchange takes place:
Steve: Oh, so you decided to go for the shitty pricing?*
Me: (Pause and look around, fake laugh) Uhh, I guess. Is that frowned upon?
Steve: Yeah, to be honest, it is. But whatever.*
He then hands me two $5 bills, the incorrect change. I look down at it for a second, and before I can say anything:
Steve: Oh, did I make a mistake?
He takes the money out of my hands and gives me a $20 bill, then immediately stops looking at me. I stagger away in a daze. Suffice it to say that I never handed him my jokes.
So here’s what went down: Steve seems to have been under the impression that I was buying something for my friend with the intent of cheating him out of $10. I guess that’s a reasonable assumption. It was not my intent at all - if I had been given more time to realize what was going on, I would have gladly paid the extra $10 to support one of my favorite comedians. I just have a problem with the way he responded to the situation.
He does more college gigs than any other comedian. Isn’t he used to people doing this? If he has such a problem with this behavior - something I’m positive that cheap college kids must do all the time - why post a sign advertising the discount? Why even offer it at all? It’s not like he’s losing money when he sells the shirt for $5 off… he’s still profiting, just not as much. I don’t know anything about his financial situation, but while I’m sure that he’d like the money, I doubt he’s in a position to get angry every time someone takes advantage of that discount.
The whole thing with the incorrect change kind of rubs me the wrong way too. While it’s possible that this was an honest mistake, I seriously doubt it. We were just discussing the fact that I’ve gone with the “shitty pricing,” so how could he forget? Did he expect me to see the $10 and just “take the hint?” If I had been thinking quickly enough (this whole exchange obviously took place in about 30 seconds) I’d have apologized and walked away, but he just took the money back before I could respond. Looking down at it was the only cue he needed. If he actually did want me to just take the $10 and leave, why not simply decline me the cheaper pricing? “Sorry, that’s only for one person buying two things,” is all it would have taken. Say it with a smile, make a joke, and move on.
Calling it shitty pricing was immediately confrontational. I tried to respond with some levity, and I was shot down immediately. I left that auditorium with my tail between my legs because I’d earned the ire of someone I genuinely respected.
I still respect Steve. He’s still really funny and I’m sure he’s really a good guy. I’m not trying to ruin him or turn anyone against him. More than anything, I wrote this post to demonstrate the incredible power that celebrities have. To Steve, this was one of thousands of interactions with random customers, but to me it was my only interaction with Steve Hofstetter. When you are a celebrity, every impression you make on anyone will always been significantly more important to them than it will be to you.
Hopefully I’ll keep that in mind when I’m famous, because those jokes were pretty funny. And Steve, on the million to one chance that you actually read this, I’d still love to hear what you think about them. Doe $10 sound like a fair compensation for your time?
*These lines are probably not verbatim quotes (the rest are) but I’ve replicated them as best I can remember. He definitely called it “shitty pricing” and answered that it was frowned upon, but I cannot recall his exact wording. His tone of voice was enough to get the message across, though.
I drove my car really fast today, and I scared myself. I wasn’t afraid because I was going fast; I’m very confident in my driving abilities so I rarely worry about getting into a dangerous situation. I was scared because I did it knowing that it’s one of the easiest ways to get myself killed. And even though I know that, I did it anyway.
First of all, allow me to congratulate you! You survived The Earthquake of August 23, 2011! This once-in-a-lifetime event will almost assuredly never happen again; the odds of another 5.9 magnitude earthquake happening in Northern New Jersey on August 23, 2011 are rapidly approaching zero, provided you don’t count aftershocks of course. Only 399 other earthquakes of this magnitude happen a year globally. That even includes places like Liberia! And dear God, a 5.9?!? That’s an order of magnitude more powerful than a 4.9! So please, take this time to pat yourself on the back. The fucking EARTH moved, and yet here you are. On Facebook.
“Ron Howard is making a movie about the Bluths using an A-List cast. But Dr. Tobias plays himself because nobody wants to play him in the movie. The Bluths decide to make their own movie in contention with Ron Howard’s.”—Cast member from the Arrested Development movie, on the plot
“The episode names of the first (“Seven Thirty-Seven”), fourth (“Down”), tenth (“Over”), and thirteenth (“ABQ”) episodes form a sentence (737 Down Over ABQ) which reveals an event that takes place in the season finale. These episodes all include a mysterious opening teaser in black and white, featuring a scorched pink teddy bear floating in Walt’s pool.”—The Wikipedia article on the naming conventions for Breaking Bad episodes