Saturday, January 10, 2009

Yes, YouTube Commenters, This Is Pretty Unrealistic



This short film is about love and our crazy modern digital age and cute European boys who dance poorly but woo wonderfully. Obviously, I love it.

-Josh

"Resolved"

I just watched a tremendous documentary from 2007 called Resolved. It follows two high-school debate teams and explores the unique challenges they face in winning the ultimate trophy at the Tournament of Champions (no, seriously.) The first is the affluent Highland Park High School in white, suburban Texas. Sam is a brilliant but underachieving senior, and Matt is the precocious sophomore taking seniors' positions, shocking the high-school circuit, and pissing off his competition. The second (the film's true protagonist) team hails from Long Beach in poor, urban California, where Richard and Louis found debate after years spent fighting, chasing girls, and doing things that, in their words, would have eventually led them "dead or in jail." Rather than debating policy points, the two seniors openly flaunt debate traditions, refusing to wear suits to competitions (the Tupac-emblazoned jeans are a great piece of clothing) and openly challenging the inherent racism and elitism of the entire debate system. I won't tell you who wins, but this documentary sucks you in with its surprising suspense and deft examination of the many factors in this complex, time-consuming activity (I hate calling it a sport.) And you won't believe how fast they talk (termed "spread," for speed read)--it took me a few minutes to realize the debate footage hadn't been sped up. I promise that this is so much more than just a quirky story on a strange subculture. Watch it right now.

-Josh

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chris Brown Makes Everything Better


T-Pain usually doesn't do it for me, but I'm liking his new single, "Freeze," featuring Chris Brown. Here, the club-drenched hip-hop and Electric Boogaloo keyboards perfectly suit T-Pain's digitized vocals. Brown's verse is welcome relief from all the computers; one forgets how soulful his voice can get, and his syrupy trills imbue the track with an earnest feel-good vibe absent from too many detached, modern R&B tracks. Plus, the video is kaleidoscopically crazy, making you actually want to dance (and, um, freeze, I guess) with these two. Don't get too comfortable (and take off that damn top hat already), T-Pain--I'm hardly your biggest fan. But I think you've won me over this time. 

-Josh

Random Question

Why the hell does Alan Ball insist on having the longest show openers ever? They're always awesome and visually gratifying but the Six Feet Under and True Blood openers are just wayyyyyy too fucking long.

-Jess

Things We Didn't Lose In The Fire

Hey guys. Whatsup? Oh, n/m here, just RECOVERING FROM THE MASSIVE FIRE THAT SWEPT THROUGH MY APARTMENT BUILDING THIS MORNING.

I woke up still drunk at 9:30am to banging on my door and my roommate screaming "Jess! There's a fire!" When I came out in my slip (a.k.a. basically naked) there were firemen in my apartment curving a hose on the floor to get it up the stairs to the 3rd floor where the fire was. They made us evacuate and when we got outside there were huge ladders going up to the 3rd floor and they were breaking the windows and smoke was pouring out. They started throwing charred bedding and all this shit out the window. I took some pictures:

Thankfully no one was in the apartment at the time, so no one was hurt. One of the guys that lived there came to check and see if we were okay and I wanted to hug him so badly. He said that cliched thing all people say when things like this happen: "You just never think it will happen to you." =/

I guess it started because something got caught in the radiator, which is terrifying stuff because it could happen to anybody. As for our apartment, our one bathroom is completely flooded and there's water damage in the ceiling and some drippage in the bedrooms, oh and also it smells awfully of smoke, but we're all okay, our things aren't damaged badly, so really all I'm concerned about is the guys whose apartment it was. Really scary. Luckily our Super, this amazing Eastern European guy named "Meadow," has been taking good care of everyone in the building. The Red Cross Disaster Relief team came (???) and the locksmiths fixed the doors the firemen had to break down already.

And now I have... an interview. In midtown. Cool.

-Jess

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Comped

My favorite anonymous Jezebel writer wrote a great piece on the nature of accepting compliments yesterday. This is a wonderful problem to have, and I avoid it by wearing sweatpants and sandals with socks to the convenience store.

Obviously, this was just a little rant and in no means a ponderous diatribe. But Tatiana left out one important factor in determining how best to respond to a compliment: who's giving it.

If it's just a friend, I usually make a self-deprecating remark, or else say "Thanks, it's new" and then immediately bring up my new zit or the bags under my eyes. If it's a relative, I smile sheepishly and return the compliment. But when a guy does it--like, a guy who I'm interested in, or who is interested in me--well, then it's complicated.

Actually, if I've been drinking heavily then I just ignore whatever he said and continue singing Madonna to myself, or whatever the hell I do when I'm drunk. Other times, I do the relative thing. (Delivered with a longing gaze, "You're not so bad yourself" is my favorite return line.) If he gives me a compliment right after we've hooked up, I silence him and kiss him some more, which sounds really whorish but really isn't (I hope.) But I never feel satisfied with my responses, and always mentally revise them the next day.
The compliment is a verbal anomaly in a cynical, pessimistic city like New York. Maybe it's the nature of the statement that freaks me out--or the fact that someone has paid enough attention to me to notice--but it's the ease with which it is given that puzzles me the most. It's such a bridge between strangers, a remark that needs no introduction, theoretically possible at any time. It is very typical of me to worry about the motivation behind the compliment instead of accepting it graciously and taking silent pride.

-Josh

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Went Out

(Way back when.)

Forty minutes to five! Which means it's too late to start any new projects but too early to think about leaving work, which in turn means you get to read my rambling prose. Today I'm going to talk about nightlife.

I used to go out. A lot. The summer before sophomore year was probably the most fun I've ever had in a three-month period. I got wasted almost every night, spent enough money to single-handedly rejuvenate the economy, and met a whole bunch of people who did things like upload party fliers to Facebook and invite me to their house for photo shoots/excuses to hook up. Yes, a lot of it was dumb, but it was also a crazy good time, and I ended up meeting some really great kids with whom I'm friends to this day.

But then I kind of stopped going out, at least to the kinds of places that would show up on photoblogs the next day. I still enjoy a proper drinking session at Ye Olde Cheap Watering Hole That Doesn't Carde, but most of my partying time is now spent in people's apartments, or by myself with Chinese takeout and CSI marathons. What happened to nightlife?

As I've said before, it stopped being exciting. Back in the day, Ruff Club truly was fun. There'd be great music, ridiculously hilarious people, and the perfect mix of youthful carelessness and clubland extravagance that blended appropriately with the zooming neon lights upstairs. And the fun wasn't contained to just one venue; all over the Lower East Side, SoHo, and the West Village, people eschewed bottle service and drab techno for a strangely familial camaraderie played out to timeless pop music.

But then Misshapes ended and the Ruff Kids broke up and suddenly, Happy Ending wasn't quite so happy. Sure, I still went out, but by the end of sophomore year, things were different and sadder, Sparks-infused fumes filling increasingly empty dance floors. Exclusivity became the new irony, and imitations of Beatrice popped up everywhere, their only connecting threads being their boringness and their desire to keep you--me, us, everyone without a thousand connections and Jeremy Scott clothing--out. Bronques spends as much time away from New York as he does in it, and in their Facebook pictures that show up on my News Feed like hazy dreams, today's freshmen look just a little more desperate and a little too put-together, like they've memorized the lines of a play that just closed. Maybe it's just a sign of aging, but I can't help but feel self-conscious when I head out to a club now, like I shouldn't really be doing this anymore.

I know this sounds pretty ridiculous. And if you hate going out, you'll think I wasted many nights downing vodka tonics on underground dance floors. But the sliver of New York nightlife I enjoyed was fun. Even Jess went out freshman year. And I wish things were still like that; I wish my favorite DJs hadn't gotten big and started traveling the world, that I didn't have to feel too old when I'm not even legal to drink for another month, that there were still a place you know you could go to if all else fails, some tiny bar on Orchard Street where the bouncer knows your name and the doors are open to everyone.

House parties are great. You know a lot of people, there's no dress code (a fact for which I remain grateful), the liquor is plenty and the pretentiousness is lacking. But sometimes you want to go to a party where you don't know too many people, where everything is new and weird and funny, where a man in a bow tie behind the bar makes the perfect martini, and where you always feel like you're on the cusp of something, that around the corner and down the hallway some beautiful guy with perfect hair and an agonizingly perfect wardrobe will see you and whisper, his voice tinged with a lisp, that you are the person he's been waiting for, and you will go home with him and look at the pictures on his refrigerator and sit on his mattress--too firm for sleeping, really--and throw your arms around his chest and fumble through his nightstand for a condom and dig your fingertips into the small of his back, and you will wake up with his arm draped over your stomach, the afternoon sun reeling you in like a riptide, and you won't even mind your hangover because you know that the things you've forgotten, those hasty text messages littered with typos, the number written on your wrist in faded Sharpie ink, the aftertaste of stale beer--that for once in your life you forgot yourself and still came out alive, with the pictures to remind you of the trifles to which you devoted yourself so recklessly. I don't want this all the time anymore, but God do I miss it on Saturday nights.

-Josh

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sappy

This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. As hard as I fight it and as much as I declare myself some independent, pro-no-strings-attached-sex, free-spirited woman, I still find this relationship envious and hope some day I can have something even a modicum as special as what they had.

-Jess

Happy New Year

My roommate just found my pillbox of Tylenol floating in the toilet.

-Josh

WOO 2009

This is the critical difference between me and my sister.

My 16 year old sister Alison was complaining that she was bored, that maybe she would run to Target, but oh it's 8pm and she has to wake up at 6am for school so she doesn't have enough time since she should probably get ready for bed soon.

Me: Don't you hate this life?
Her: I guess, but it's the only one I have so there's nothing I can really do about it.

Ladies and gentleman, the sole member of my family who will probably never need antidepressants.

Sitting in my childhood bed on my laptop I had one of those intense deja vu moments when that conversation occurred. Her life used to be my life. I remember those awkward hours between 7:30pm and 9:30pm when it's too early to go to sleep but too late to do anything else, so time disappears into the internet/shitty TV vortex, and finally you walk zombie-like to the bathroom and brush your teeth while staring into the mirror and making note of every imperfection and then crawl into bed and wake up to go to school and do it all over again. Nothing was new, every day was groundhog day. Our Dad has meetings most nights, our Stepmom invents things to do after work so that she returns just in time for a cigarette, a glass of wine and her heated mattress. My sister and I would eat Wawa sandwiches for dinner and watch MTV while my dog snored on the armchair. Nothing has changed, everything is all the same, and as my friend Mike relayed to me recently, even if *you* change -- if nothing and no one else does -- then does it even matter?

I think I'm having that "reverse culture shock" or whatever the fuck the NYU Study Abroad office letter called it. Or just my seasonal depression. (Lol like it's seasonal) I have a long list of stupid and simple tasks to complete such as make an appointment to get the Gardasil shot and call my therapist and have dinner with my step-grandfather and write an article that's due on the 10th and I can't get myself to do any of it because I am basically paralyzed by my own misery and self-pity. And you know how you're sad, and then you really hate yourself for being sad, and then you're even sadder that you have so much self-hatred? Kind of what I'm experiencing right now, and also stereotypical winter-and-teenager emotions such as "lost," "uninterested" and "that one where you feel like you will spend all the money you're supposed to spend on schoolbooks on a one-way plane ticket to some island with a name you can't pronounce." I used to get that feeling in high school a lot. As soon as my Dad gave me the emergency credit card I used to lay in bed fantasizing about charging a plane ticket to it -- usually to San Francisco -- and just figuring out everything once I got there. I am apparently not too old for those escapist dreams but now they are twinged with anxieties such as "But where would I sleep?" and "How could I sneak weed onto the plane?" So, see, I have changed, but allow me to reiterate: who the fuck cares? Who the fuck cares about anything anymore?

-Jess

P.S.

HOLY FUCK

I can now die.

-Jess

Genius

Jayne Anne Phillips

http://www.amazon.com/Lark-Termite-Jayne-Anne-Phillips/dp/0375401954/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231268167&sr=8-1

The mother of one of my closest friends, Soren, had her newest novel quite favorably reviewed in the New York Times today. Check out the review, and be sure to order the book!

-Jess

Leighton Meester's Trashy Horrific Past and Bright Musical Future

So Leighton Meester, a.k.a. prime bitch on Gossip Girl, wants to be a singer. In fact, she's got an album coming out this spring. It' will most likely totally suck but still have some fun pop moments, kind of like Gossip Girl! See? Everything comes together.

I came aross this video of Meester singing in a movie called Drive Thru, and then I realized that I've already seen it! It's a hilariously low-budget and ridiculous slasher flick from 2007. I watched it stoned in New Jersey a few months ago. Meester (which totally sounds like Cartman as Edward James Olmos addressing a distinguished gentleman, by the way) plays a vaguely punk rocker who's just too cool for her lame suburban wasteland of a hometown...until all her friends start dying! I think she lives at the end, but trust me, I'm not ruining anything. Anyway, I've only just now made the connection between Meester in that movie and Meester as Blair Waldorf. What can I say? She looks really different with straightened hair. And, like, not-really-expensive clothing.

-Josh

Monday, January 5, 2009

"The City" Actual Review


Jess usually covers reality shows for this blog, as I'm not a huge fan of anything that doesn't involve New York the character, but hey, New York the city is almost as fun, right?

Apparently not, because nothing happened on The City tonight. Seriously. Whitney got an apartment, which we all saw coming a mile away, and she obviously had to find a place to live sooner or later but we knew it would happen unrealistically quickly and easily. Which it did! And she has a conveniently telegenic balcony. Erin, meanwhile, apparently has a boyfriend who lives in Canada--the latest in a lengthy list of long-distance lovers (whew!)--and we all know what that means. Erin also likes to say cheesy things that sound more scripted than the lines on Gossip Girl, like how she'd rather have her heart filled with love and then broken ten times than never fall in love at all, or something equally awkward to say to a new boyfriend. Then Whitney had trouble trusting Jay, again, because they were talking about how Erin and her guy already said "I love you" and maybe hypothetically we should do that and sigh can you pour me another glass? Olivia continued to be creepy, covering for an early-departing Whitney at work but then bitching about doing so later.

The show definitely needs more supporting characters--enough of Whitney and Erin exploring artificially-created New York Moments!--and also, what happened to Alex? Did he just decide to take a break from his gossipy alpha-maleness? And by the way, as an entry-level-almost-intern, Whitney totally wouldn't select the clothing for her boss's photo shoots. Just saying.

Um, maybe Jess can elaborate, but there's not much to elaborate on. These characters are still way too airbrushed; I hope the gloves come off soon.

-Josh

"The City" Pre-Review

"Knowing where this show came from, she'll probably suddenly find herself in a gorgeous, spacious penthouse somewhere in Gramercy."

-Me, 6 days ago

Called it!

-Josh

I Fucking Hate the Apple Store

Here I am, sitting at the one available computer, waiting for an appointment that will never come. I came and explained to some guy my situation and that someone at Apple Corp. had arranged a stand-by appointment for me--which they don't do unless several of the scheduled appointments haven't confirmed and would therefore clear up some time for people like me--with instructions to call her if there would be a long wait, but he had no idea what I was talking about and she (said employee) didn't pick up her phone. I am not here to buy a new laptop or check out an iPhone; I'm here to ask the "geniuses" why the hell my hard drive keeps crashing. I don't treat my laptop like a precious fabrege egg, but I also don't toss it around like some two-dollar whore. But whatever, I've been here for a half hour without any subsequent discussion with any of the dozen people working here. I am leaving in ten minutes without solace but with my shitty non-working laptop. I hate Apple, I hate the Genius Bar, and I hate stupid Apple Corp. employees who don't keep their promises and make me shlep to Ninth Avenue for no reason. 

-Josh

P.S. Stupid Apple store guy, stop making brief eye contact with me and then pretending to not see me. We've met, and you know why I'm here. I hate you.

Apple of My Eye

So I've been to the SoHo Mac store (many times) and I've been to the glass-cube-midtown-location thing (at like three in the morning.) I have never been to the 14st St. location, but I'm heading there tonight! I have a stand-by appointment, which means that the wait will be even longer than it would be if I'd made a reservation, which still would have been something like forty minutes. Since it's the least popular Apple store in New York, at least among my friends, I'll let you know what it's like. Oh and ha ha the L is all fucked up so I'll probably end up walking to Ninth Avenue.

-Josh

Sunday, January 4, 2009

My Mom Dictated This Post

This is "a heck of a laptop," she says. To her credit, while mine has broken and been resurrected more than Jesus, her laptop has stayed working all the way through. It is also allegedly just a year older than mine, though you couldn't tell that by the clumsy architecture of the hardware. My mom stares at me, mug of coffee in her dignified hands, calling me an "ungrateful little wretch" with gusto. Then she makes an awkward Internet joke. Anyway, I'm bringing this little machine back with me until mine is fixed. No Stumble, unfortunately, but now I can browse through all her Board of Ed files.

;)

-Josh

P.S. "My mom never fails to amaze me with her unselfishness and commitment to my happiness." Awww!

Quote of the Day

"'I always thought that if I kept searching and exploring, I'd discover who I truly was," said Speth from his Wrigleyville efficiency. "Well, I looked deep into the innermost recesses of my soul, I plumbed the depths of my subconscious, and you know what I found? An empty, windowless room the size of an aircraft hangar. From now on, if anybody needs me, I'll be sprawled out on this couch drinking black-cherry soda and watching Law & Order like everybody else."

"Fuck it," he added."

- Search for Self Called Off After 38 Years

Stumbling The Onion's channel is officially my new favorite thing. And when I eventually become this guy, can it be Law and Order: SVU? That's the best one.

-Jess