Saturday, November 8, 2008

Josh's Favorite Videos

One of the things I love most about coming home is our digital cable. Despite feeling compelled to do things like sell my high school class ring at a pawn shop, my parents totally went all-out with the TV entertainment.

The best music channel they have is called Music Choice. I don't know who runs it, who's responsible for it, when it started, or if it's an actual channel at all. But I do know that it's got a lot of great stuff, both new and old. Tonight I was browsing and I rediscovered the gem that is:




So she wanted to really commemorate the late, great Aaliyah. How'd she do it? By just letting the fucking flow out. People forget that behind the bling, fun videos, and making cameos in hilariously contrived hip-hop movies, Missy's a masterful MC and one of the few people who pulls off spoken-word poetry. Just listen to her lyrics sometime, man--it's surprisingly great stuff.

That said, her videos are so awesome. What seals the deal for me with "Pass That Dutch," however, is the amazing attention to visual detail. For instance, when she references Rerun, she becomes him, grainy video and all. It's a wonderful little moment that doesn't beat you over the head with its cleverness, but shows that Missy's got a creative sensibility about her that goes beyond that of a simple lyricist.

(Okay, all that said: Music Choice also had this, and it's like, hi, you are Missy Elliott, not Mary J. Blige. Her voice sounds pretty good, actually, but...it's just not her style. Sappy and stupid. Though I think she gets bonus points for doing the whole "ay-ay-ay" thing long before Rihanna.)

-Josh

Friday, November 7, 2008

What Beast Hath I Wrought?

So this got pretty crazy, huh? I'm glad to have sparked such debate, but seriously, fuck everyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin. Fuck 'em straight to the lousy, poorly-decorated hell they deserve.

-Josh

SNES: Super Nostalgia Energizing Song



If I were a futuristic space warrior riding a motorcycle through a ring of neon fire, this is totally the song I'd want playing in the background. Oh how I miss the days of side-scrolling Mario.

(Thanks to Butter Team, which I will now be reading regularly and you should too.)

-Josh

Facebook Knows Me Too Well

This was an ad on my profile page. I love how one of the requirements is someone who "can remain sober for at least one week."

In other words, I'm disqualified.

-Josh

(P.S. If you're my mom or my dad, then I'm just kidding. Obviously.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Over In Colorado


So I actually liked the new South Park. It wasn't the most politically incisive or satirical episode they've done (that would be "They took our jobs!" and Towelie's Million Little Fibers, respectively), but it was a fresh take on the election's characters. Though I've been dying for the show to do a full-fledged Sarah Palin episode--if they could spin Britney, they could spin Sarah--what we got here was, if anything, unexpected. And they definitely nailed the whole mocking-the-ridiculousness-of-stupid-rich-people-thief-movies.

Unlike many longtime fans of South Park, I've come to embrace and enjoy the direction the show has taken over the past few seasons. I anticipate and appreciate the increased focus on cultural relevancy and topical humor, as opposed to the cruder character-diven plots of the early seasons. Many feel that the show has lost its soul, and wonder what happened to the days when South Park was about four boys who got into trouble in their hometown. But there's only so much you can do with that; if you like the fact that the show's still on the air, you have to accept its recent penchant for satire and allusions.

I do, however, have two qualms with Matt and Trey's creative decisions as of late. First off, whatever happened to Cartman being a bad guy? The show went through a "Why do the other three hang out with him?" phase, but then he came to, for the most part, side with Stan, Kyle, and Kenny in ther fights against the government, their parents, the homless--anyone who pissed them off and infringed on their right to be carefree, small-town boys. But the whole beauty of Cartman is that he is a douchebag, and that he hates the three kids he seems to always hang out with (especially Kyle.) Taking that away decimates so much of the chemistry between these characters and makes their misadventures, topical as they are, less fun.

Then there's the fact that if you pride yourself on staying remarkably up-to-date, you've got to stick to that. So why the hell did they parody Cloverfield this season? I know the point of the episode was to show off a cool animation technique, and it was indeed cool to watch, but...seriously? "I'm so startled!" as a punchline? Cloverfield came out months ago; its time came and went. Since South Park's strength the past few years has been its ability to churn out episodes concurrent with national events, seeing a months-too-late parody was kind of sad and definitely stale. And for a show in its twelfth season, "stale" is the last thing you want to be.

-Josh

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lit Salon: Loveboat by Hannah Pechter

Our very first entry! Hannah is a 21-year-old student at Wagner University in Staten Island.

It was 2:07 a.m. Saturday morning, and Michele and I were waiting for the Staten Island Ferry in downtown Manhattan. The financial district was deserted at this hour, but hundreds of us were gathered in the terminal that sits at the very edge of the island, waiting to go home. The ferry terminal was crowded mostly with students from Wagner College, the little-known private school nestled on top of a hill in New York’s least favorite borough. During the morning hours, as I commute into the city for my internship at Women’s Wear Daily, the ferry is all business suits and Starbucks cups. But on the weekend nights before the sun comes up, the ferry plays host to quite a different scene. The large cluster of college students who have trickled in from villages East and West forms to a rowdy booze cruise, and you can even buy yourself a pretzel and a beer.
Michele and I are in our final year at school, and both of us hail from the faraway land of Southeastern Pennsylvania. For the past three years, the late-night ferry has become a dreaded weekend ritual for those of us who consider our island to have a lacking nightlife. I decided to attend school on Staten Island to be near Manhattan and still live on a bucolic college campus that offered something that NYU and Columbia do not: trees and grass. I feel fortunate enough to participate in all of the cliché college experiences: being part of a sorority, laying out on the Quad -- and still be part of the glamour and chaos of Manhattan. But the perfect collegiate and metropolitan harmony that I’ve achieved feels slightly less so during the frustrating and interminable wait and journey across the Hudson.
The glare of the permanently bright and glassed – in terminal felt like being dropped in a fish bowl after we’d been bathing in the dim red lights of the tiny East Side bar where we had just celebrated Michele’s brother’s birthday, and the sins of our night were on display. My flat-ironed hair had relaxed into the tell – tale wave of a night well had, and the tears Michele had been crying had caused her mascara to migrate south.
Mingling with the slightly older crowd at the bar, who all had real jobs and real lives, I couldn’t wait to graduate, not only from college, but to a better and more convenient borough. As I sipped on my vodka-tonic, I was inevitably asked the dreaded “Where do you live?” question. As soon as I answered, I was met with the reaction I have gotten accustomed to: a grimace and a slow, disbelieving shake of the head. “You have to go all the way back to Staten Island tonight? Damn.” But then, a sly smile. “Why don’t you just stay over at my place?”
No matter how good (or bad) a night we’d had in Manhattan, the wait in the terminal and the subsequent ride across the water always induces a sort of hazy state of self-reflection as we all wait to get home and collapse into our standard issue extra-long flame-retardant twin beds. Am I bisexual if I always make out with girls when I’m drunk? Am I permanently damaging my liver?
But in the terminal that never sleeps in the city that doesn’t either, we were all trapped in a microcosm of college life. Over near the toilets and payphones, people were trying not to stare at that forever-feuding couple, the Seahawk’s half-back and a girl with a fake tan and nails. By the newspaper stand, the skanky sophomore theatre major and that week’s boyfriend sloppily groped each other.
I was busy reassuring Michele, who was causing her own scene. She was crying into the soggy bagel I bought for her as a makeshift condolence gift, making it even soggier. She and her boyfriend, Jake, had gotten into an alcohol-fueled argument back at the bar about something neither of them could remember, and he was sulking off somewhere on the other side of terminal. “I don’t know what to do, Hannah,” she hiccupped. “I just don’t understand him sometimes.”
I offered versions of “You have every right to be upset,” and “You don’t need a guy to be happy,” but it did nothing to subside her tears. Even though Jake and Michele’s relationship was as rocky as the boat we were about to get on, I wasn’t worried. I can’t even count the times I’ve fought with a boyfriend just for the reassuring thrill of making up.
Finally, 2:30 a.m. arrived, and along with it, the ferry. All aboard! The gates slowly parted and we were all herded onto our floating purgatory. The crowd shuffled on, and Michele and I headed for the upper deck, making sure to avoid several drunk native Islanders and the crazy lady with the light-up crucifix. A few sloppy girls from that other sorority were already folding themselves over the lip of the boat, emptying bellies full of cheap liquor obtained at a divey Village bar with their roommate’s sister’s best friend’s ID. A group of New England lacrosse players performed the requisite offering of the fleece North Face jacket to their shivering dates. Michele sobbed on.
I’ve found that relationships can begin as easily as they can end on these waters. During a more fortunate night on the ferry in the February of my freshman year, I locked eyes with a familiar face, someone I’d recognized as being a fellow student at Wagner. It had been a blurred, crazy evening. Abandoned by ‘friends’ who’d decided to go back to our Greek waiter’s apartment in Queens, I was alone and slightly terrified. Seth, with his baseball cap and endearingly scruffy face, wordlessly sat down next to me and held my hand, and we were together for two years.
I was hoping that Michele, still a drippy and drunken mess, would stop being stubborn and go find her boyfriend so I could abandon my responsibilities as babysitter. Jake, who was even more stubborn, had disappeared into the lower deck of ferry, I assumed, to hide out and practice some more pouting. Port to port, the ride was 27 minutes – and we had nothing to do but wait and see if this boyfriend of hers would just suck it up and come apologize. I forced optimism into my voice for Michele’s sake. “He’s just too proud to admit that he’s wrong,” I said earnestly, although in my head I wondered what it was exactly that he had done. She gripped her cell phone, waiting for the vibration of an apologetic text message.
The boat glided lazily past the Statue of Liberty and Governor’s Island. We were halfway home. A resolution looked less promising as we passed the swoops of the Verrazano Bridge. No Jake. As we reached the shore, it was clear there wasn’t going to be any kissing or making up.
Michele was devastated. “He doesn’t care about me!” she wailed. “And he turned off his phone!”
I hailed a gypsy cab back to the school. Stumbling back to her room, Michele immediately logged onto her Facebook account, seeing that the worst was confirmed: Jake had already deleted his profile, and along with it, the official Internet confirmation of their relationship. I’d never seen Michele so distraught, but what could I do? My supply of generic pseudo-feminist words of wisdom had run out.
I helped her into her bed, put a trashcan next to her head, and told her to call me in the morning.
When I didn’t hear from Michele for two days, I gave her a call.
“So, what happened with Jake? Are you guys O.K.?”
“Hey Hannah! Oh, yeah! It was just a big miscommunication. We talked about it, and everything’s fine now!”
I wanted to roll my eyes and remind her that fights and almost everything else are never real on the in-between world of the Staten Island Ferry, but I refrained, knowing that in the future there would probably be a time when I would need her to console me across the river.

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Obama Celebration

For just a moment. Sorry, I can't be 100% cool with the election results.

Why? Because California banned gay marriage. So did Arizona and Florida.

Look, I'm overjoyed about Obama. I've read in history books about presidents like Abe Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, JFK, hell, even Reagan, and I've wondered how a commander in chief could, well, command the national imagination so vigorously. I grew up during the Bush years, during which our government--especially at the executive level--failed the American people again and again. I'm so excited to have a president I'm actually proud of, and I can't wait for Obama's administration to begin.

That said--seriously, California, not cool. This is a major setback for gay rights, because the three states where this was on the ballot voted the same way on this, which indicates the national mood. And yeah, I know, Connecticut; but which do you think will have more influence on future gay-marriage debates, Connecticut or California? (No offense to any CT readers. I have a personal problem with your state. The one and only time I have ever been stung by a jellyfish was in your cold, dreary waters, and that shit hurt.)

It's such a strange juxtaposition; the country voted for change last night--California included--yet the passage of Prop 8 suggests such cautious, frightened, reactionary thinking. Look, I understand if you're uncomfortable with the idea of gay marriage--it's a religious issue and a touchy subject, and as much as I want everyone to just be fucking COOL with gay marriage, I know that's far from true. But to ban it outright, I mean...how am I supposed to feel? How are we, as gay citizens of this country, supposed to handle this? I can finally trust my government again thanks to Mr. Obama. But it's disheartening to think that I probably won't be able to legally get married during my lifetime.

For those of you straight readers who think I'm just being Debbie Downer, the only thing I can say to you is: you don't understand. No, you don't. I'm glad you support our cause, but really? At the end of the day, when you find the man or woman of your dreams, you will marry that person and have the country accept your union. I fear I'll never know that privilege. Take a moment to think about that. Even if I do get married somewhere, sometime, at least half the country won't like it. Worst of all, it makes me feel like a second-class citizen! I don't have the same rights as everyone else. Where is this sweeping change I keep hearing about?

So don't chastise me for being negative; I wish I could devote all my heart to celebrating Obama's victory, but on a night that was supposed to be about change, what Prop 8 told us is that this country is still stuck with the same old fears.

-Josh

It's The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

http://kristievosper.typepad.com/honestlyspeaking/images/red_starbucks_cup_2.jpg

ALERT.

(At least in Paris...) Starbucks has switched over to their red cups! And I think I hear Christmas tunes on the radio (sung by Aimee Mann of course). And there's a wreath above the door. IT'S CHRISTMAS TIME.

Remember

That today is the literary salon. If you want to send last minute writing pieces please do! They'll go up a little later.

I Still Have Goosebumps

http://grcrecordsllc.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/barack_obama000013.jpg

Last night was one of the most incredible of my life. My roommate Rachel and I went to the Democrats Abroad party at the Palais Maillot. They confidently coined it on the invitations: The Obama Victory Party. Turns out they were right.

There were thousands of people there -- French, Americans, British -- champagne, good music, huge TVs playing CNN and free "Barack OBagels" from H&H IN NEW YORK at 3am.

I interviewed people for HuffPo, then got drunk.

And OH did I mention OBAMA WON?? HE WON!

We got the results in around 5am here. The feeling in that room when CNN put their projection as him for president... I'd try to explain it but I know it's impossible. I actually still have goosebumps just thinking about it. Everyone jumped up and down and screamed and hugged each other and cried -- French people never hug! It was one of the most incredible feelings. Growing up under the Bush administration for the past 8 years, having my formative years of 12-20 occur under someone who I was absolutely mortified to be associated with that entire time, I never understood what it meant to be proud to have a nationality. I have never been more proud of our country and of the hard work everyone put in to make it happen. I think, being in another country has made me realize how important this election was, not only for me personally and for our nation as a whole, but for the entire goddamn world. I'll link to the HuffPo piece I'm going to put up later because I got a lot of interesting insights from French people about this election that really puts this whole thing into perspective. Not only is this historical in the sense that we have elected (in my first presidential election where I'm old enough to vote!) the first black president in America, but it also means we are taking back patriotism from the Republicans. This morning Rachel and I walked around with huge smiles on our faces because we no longer feel ashamed to be Americans. The French want to respect us and love us but we've made it so fucking difficult for them under W. So: here's our gift to you, world. We are so sorry for the last eight years.

-Jess

PS I just read through everyone's Facebook statuses and I'm currently covered in goosebumps and crying in a very crowded Starbucks.

Obamabration

Last night a few of us went to Union Square. It was nuts. I took pictures, too; I'll show you when I get them online, which will hopefully be tonight.

Right now though I'm late for work and haven't had enough coffee and I'm gonna go work on all that.

-Josh

UPDATE: Here be pics!

I Was Posting On My Blog When Obama Became President

Yes, it turns out, we can.

And I've never felt prouder.

-Josh

P.S. Obama just mentioned "gay" people in his speech.

Sam: gay!
Josh: i know!
Sam: lol i love it when he says gay
Josh: LOL


And God, Obama just looks so presidential, doesn't he? I already consider him to be a hero. I love Joe Biden too; I hope he never has to become president at any point in these next four (come on, eight) years, but man, the two of them together...and their families! This is so unbelievable. BUT YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election

Should I be nervous? I'm crossing my fingers but I really think Obama's got this. All my friends are worried though and keep saying that it's anyone's race and that I shouldn't be smug. I'm not being smug, just confident.

Go vote. Preferably for Obama (though I take it if you're reading this blog then you're not exactly a Palin fanatic.)

Vote vote vote! Even if your vote doesn't decide the contest, here's your chance to directly change your government. You know, the government that's screwed us over the last eight years. Hint: Voting is a more effective way of voicing displeasure and change than buying a Bushisms calendar at the Barnes & Noble cash register.

-Josh

TODAY

is the day. Please, please remember to vote, not that New York has any chance of going red.

My home state of Pennsylvania is a serious swing state, and according to my Dad McCain has been playing some really nasty radio ads and campaigning like crazy. DEAR PENNSYLVANIANS: Don't let me down! I know you Philadelphians will pull through, but you guys in the middle of the state have me nervous. I will be mortified if Pennsylvania goes red.

I have a midterm today and I'm not really sure how I'm supposed to study at a time like this but my professor is this crazy liberal who wrote a book on anti-colonialism so I think he will understand if I bomb this one.

This is what I'm wearing today:-Jess

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Introducing a new weekly feature that we are actually going to stick to if you help us out

Josh tried to pitch this idea to NYU Local but they scoffed at our literary love and sent us back to the corner with our tails between our legs. So, from now on, every Wednesday, we are introducing a reader run literary salon! We are collecting reader submissions for Jess and Josh, of any length as long as they're not basically interminable, and of any topic: short stories, poetry, etc. It's not like our blog is a hotbed of internet activity but we will link to you if you have a blog, and of course credit you, and it will be a good way to have people read your stuff, which is essentially the utmost desire of a writer, right? It also works for Josh and I because we always enjoy reading the writing of our friends and acquaintances and now we get to do so with the whole internet community. Dorky literary party here every Wednesday!

Submissions can be sent to your favorite of the two of us:

Jess - jkr243@nyu.edu
Josh - jlb564@nyu.edu

We will tally who gets the most submissions and then make the winner buy the loser a drink. Just kidding. I'm in Paris and I'm broke.

They should include your name, blog URL (if you have one), college you attend (if you attend one) age and of course the title of your piece and the piece. If you want to include a picture with your submission attach away.

One to two pieces (depending on length) will go up each Wednesday where they can be commented upon (don't worry, the comments are moderated) and read by anyone who happens upon the site. Think of it less as a critiquing workshop and more as a way to spread the literary love.

Ready, set, submit.

-Jess

I am sitting in Starbucks

on Montparnasse in an obscure, coffee soaked corner with my roommate. We are in Paris in Starbucks on our laptops. We could not be more absurdly American. There are two people sitting across from us also on their laptops. Surprise! They are American too. No one else in here has a computer. No one else in here is in their own technological bubble. We are reinventing The Lost Generation: take that Gertrude Stein.

-Jess