Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Death of Fiction

I can't read fiction anymore.

I came to this unfortunate conclusion while trying to finish On the Road for a class. As far as postmodern hallmarks are concerned, it's a slim volume, but I still struggled to make it through to the last chapter. And it had nothing to do with the quality of the writing, which I enjoyed very much.

No, like many things, I blame this problem on the Internet. Let me explain.

Remember life before the Internet? Half my life has been spent, as it were, online, but I still recall the basic facets of real life before "IRL" became a necessary acronym. I remember how entertainment was just that, entertainment; I watched cartoons and sitcoms on television, devoured Goosebumps books and immersed myself in Jerry Spinelli's childishly tragic worlds, saw movies, and read newspaper comics--all this when I wasn't racing toy cars or building cities out of wooden blocks. When I was alone, I was never really alone, having my imagination or Super Mario for company. For the most part, the video games I played were realistic; never a fan of Zelda or his ilk, I chose to play sports games and--especially--Mario games, which contained hard-and-fast rules for engagement, limits to the universes their creators had crafted, fictional only in their "Easy" setting that allowed me to win every time (which made them quite fictional, indeed). The only time I discussed "real world" things--news events that affected my juvenile self, and the like--was with friends and family, our conversations peppered by silly witticisms and rueful observations. Such was life before the Internet, at least the way I remember it; entertainment was entertainment, and you could easily avoid the real world if you had to. (And being a closeted nerd, there were many times during my adolescence when I felt I had to.)

Do you remember? This was before Jon Stewart helmed The Daily Show, and despite the scandals of the Clinton years, the show had yet to really take off, the way it did upon the arrival of the second Bush and Stephen Colbert. Mad magazine and The Onion provided much of the mass-consumed satire of the day. Commenting on real life as a viable profession made you a journalist or a comic, two niche professions that in my eyes involved their own kinds of self-limiting asceticism, having always to keep up on current events.

Then came the Internet, and not long after that, blogs. Suddenly, entertainment seemed more of a trifle. YouTube brought the absurdities of real life into everyone's living rooms, and I don't think it's a coincidence that reality TV gained prevalence at the same time. At this point, the concern for the real has reached its seeming zenith, with Twitter and Tumblr streamlining the transmittance of what we experience out there onto the laptop screens of thousands of avid readers across the world. The Daily Show and its offshoots are arguably the most important shows on television; The Onion has an endless number of online imitators. I know I've grown up since my days of Super Mario, but technology has shifted my perception of entertainment just as much as the natural age progression that afflicts us all. When I am alone, I am never really alone, but instead of fictional characters occupying my time, I read blog posts and view pictures online, glimpses into other peoples' realities, appropriating someone else's tiny, recorded tragedy--falling down a flight of stairs, drunken revelry in an anonymous dorm room--and making it my own entertainment.

This is why fiction doesn't--or hasn't yet figured out how to--work on the Internet, a medium for the documentation of real life. Why should I read a book about two people affected by a recession when I can read a hundred peoples' true tales of economic woe online? The veracity of their stories lends a certain comfort, the notion that I'm really not alone. Why should I watch a screwball comedy when I can YouTube just the same? The unassuming nature of YouTube videos, the unintended mishaps and unplanned catastrophes--these are where the comedy lies.

So it's not even a matter of cyber-ADD. A great story will still engross me, period. But I find it harder to believe in fictional worlds when I learn, every day, just how strange this world can be. A lot of people talk about the death of print journalism, and rightly so, but perhaps we should start a conversation about the possible death of fiction.

-Josh

Josh Trying to Maintain Hope In The Face of a Crippling Recession

Also known as, a unicorn vomiting a rainbow.


-Josh

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The fastest spreading meme ever

OBAMA FRIES

Olivia Palermo Plots the Ruin of Downtown Hipsters Everywhere

So it is possible for her to look unattractive.

-Jess

Lil' Wayne Suffers Frequent Headaches

I didn't know that crazy, migraine-suffering, sore-throat-victim Lil' Wayne was a father. I do know that he gives a hilarious interview to Katie Couric.

"Do you smoke a lot of pot?"
"Um...medicinal."

Best answer ever.

-Josh

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wednesday Night "Studying"



That is all.

Juicy No More

Online gossip forum JuicyCampus--which we've written about before--is shutting down.

While Jess was never a fan of the site, I always viewed it with a sense of bemused detachment (and, okay, more than a little nosiness). In fact, I had it bookmarked in its earliest days. The problem it faced is that there are so many other outlets for gossip--from Facebook to Twitter, not to mention the small-talk among casual friends at any given party--and it never became an indelible part of campus life, at least among NYU students. In today's Web (and, ahem, economy), a successful online venture must convincingly position itself as both essential and revolutionary--something you didn't know you couldn't live without. While campus gossip will surely live on through other channels, JuicyCampus will join the myriad of Web sites that didn't generate enough buzz.

-Josh

Facebook Has Gone Too Fucking Far


In case you were wondering, Darvin L. Martin is my stepdad. In case you were also wondering, I refused to click the "1 friend" link for fear of finding out that it is indeed my Mom's profile it will take me to. Seriously, Facebook? Seriously? Now I can't even look at my Newsfeed without catching allusions to my parents having sex? That's disgusting. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.

-Jess

Go To Bed

JOSH: LOL i'm talking to cody and i just said "bong" instead of "blog"
JOSH: :(

-Jess

(Josh's note: I wasn't even high when I made the typo.)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fucking School Part Two

My homework for my new media class, as Lily discusses here, is to not use Google or any of its programs for a week. (YouTube, Gmail, etc)

That's funny, because I'm breaking the rule right now.

We should've moved the site to Wordpress when we said we would (6 months ago).

Also I'm paying $50,000/year to have my teacher try to force me to realize that we are all addicted to the internet.

We know.

A+ now, please?

-Jess

Fashion People Are Getting Poorer Too

I don't usually cross-post my NYU Local articles on this blog, but since we here at Jess and Josh have some fashionable readers who may not be NYU students (or may simply not be interested in NYU Local, even though you should be because it's great), I'm curious as to your thoughts on this article I wrote about the recession hitting Fashion Week. One of my roommates, who used to go to Parsons and maintains a strong interest in the fashion world, pointed out that designers like Vera Wang have saved themselves by doing lines for major retailers like Kohl's. Agree? Disagree? Or is fashion week totally irrelevant in this, the Worst Recession Ever?

-Josh

Please tell me

The fear is palpable

how most people can stride confidently through snow/sleet/ice without a shred of worry about falling, when I literally shuffle like a senior citizen from place to place? It takes me at least twice as long to get wherever I'm going if the ground is in any way slick. I am so clumsy that I fall even when the ground is dry, so I'm even more paranoid when it's slippery. I can't talk on the phone or listen to my iPod when there's ice on the ground. I must concentrate. I have to walk incredibly slowly, taking small steps, lifting my feet obscenely high to avoid accidentally making contact with the ground too quickly, having my legs fly out from under me, landing directly on my tailbone, cracking it, and then noticing my laptop got smashed into a million pieces by the cement.

That scenario I just mentioned? That's what I'm picturing the entire time I'm walking through slush. Obsessively, over and over again, I physically shudder when I envision my chin smacking against the pavement or the way my cheeks would tingle after recovering from a particularly public fall. If I stop thinking about this for a split second I will fall flat on my face and require stitches that leave me with a very visible scar.

But other people oooooh they don't have this problem! Other people, even if they're wearing heels or flats with patent leather bottoms, other people just glide on by, leaving me in a literal cloud of slush. I feel helpless. I imagine me creeping through the snow, feeling trapped by my crippling inability to not-fall-in-slick-locations, is what it's like to be elderly. (Sidenote: Sorry I rush you, Grammy! I'm just usually inordinately excited to go to the Olive Garden every time you visit and I hate waiting for you to put on all that rouge)

So heh um, is this OCD or neuroses or just good old residual, nostalgic humiliation from that time I face planted in front of all the cool seniors in the high school parking lot?

-Jess

Haxor My Heart

There's been a recent spate of altered road signs all across the world. Many of them involve impending zombie attacks, which would probably make me chuckle if I were driving by them.

You know what wouldn't make me chuckle? This:


Jesus, vandals, way to make it personal.

-Josh

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Wonderwall One Sucks, Though



The song playing in the video above was made by taking Freddie Mercury's vocal track from "We Will Rock You" and remixing it using Songsmith, Microsoft's pathetic voice-recognition answer to Mac's GarageBand.

I have to say, though, that I like this version of the song just as much as Queen's original. There's something so cheesy-yet-satisfying about the samba pianos and soft back beat, like waking up to Lite FM in your parents' guest bedroom on a Saturday morning.

Here's another surprisingly decent Songsmith rendition:


-Josh

P.S. But this is just a travesty:

One Funny, One Serious

But both about weed.





-Jess

We Share Our Mother's Tumblr

Last night my body decided to go into panic mode; my sinuses were pounding and I sweated profusely while the rest of my body shivered under the covers. Fun.

The one good thing to come out of my immunofreak-out is that in between coughs and loogies, I had a lot of time to think about Things, and one of them stuck with me today. Guess what: it's about the Internet!

The Internet--and computers in general--have changed the way people my age communicate and associate with our parents. For centuries, parents were the strict authority figures of the family; disobeying their commands or attempting to talk back to them was sinful, and even if you hated them and defied their demands, society's objective opinion was that they're your parents and therefore right, and you'd come to realize that sooner or later. And even if their kids knew more about music, movies, fashion, and other aspects of culture--even if we could make better conversation at parties--these things were secondary, and it was parents who taught their children about the Ways of the World. A father could control his son without knowing how to work a CD or operate a cordless phone.

But now, we--by which I mean people my age--know more about the Internet than our parents can ever hope to learn, and the power balance has shifted in that regard. Now, our parents are coming to us for advice. We send clearer emails and make cleaner Web sites; we find them better deals on bags and groceries that they'd otherwise miss online; they manage to entirely fuck up Microsoft Word, and we come to the rescue. In short, in terms of communicative technology, we the children know more than our parents.

This is special because it will only happen once. The next generation of bloggers will be our children; while they will surely know more about the next decades' virtual innovations, both we and our children will have a basic grasp on the Internet, learned practically from birth, and made more proficient as the Internet comes to replace older modes of communication and information dissemination.

We are the only generation of kids who know so much more about this great, new tool than our parents; and the Internet is so vast, so deep, so filled with all sorts of applications and functions, that our greater knowledge has in many ways allowed us to trump our parents.

Obviously, our parents still know many things we don't (I, for one, have no idea how to file taxes.) And my mother is surprisingly adept as using the Internet. But I can't help but feel that my generation is in a special place to wipe the slate of history clean and begin recording the annals of our time anew, one blog at a time. And no one can tell us not to.

-Josh

College Books

song chart memes
more music charts

Too fucking true.

-Josh

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Potstroke

News of the World

Contrary to popular belief I am all for Michael Phelps being a stoner. Welcome to the club, baby!

-Jess

Social Media Week NY

I am abnormally excited for this. More info to come on NY Convergence tomorrow.

-Jess

Save the Words!

Oh yes. Save the words from those ablative Oxford Dictionary editors! This is my first adopted word, and I will be using it for the remainder of this subboreal winter, and during each snowy season hereafter.

(And I love that the red, squiggly misspelled-or-unrecognized-term identifier from Microsoft Word is this program's logo.)

-Josh

I'd Even Change My Name to Ellen

God, I love PSAs, especially ones from the eighties and nineties; there's something about them that evokes such nostalgia in me, even if the spot itself is a little before my time. I guess part of me misses being treated like a child, and the innocence that came with it.

But also they're fucking hilarious. And if you're really lucky, you'll find one that doesn't even try to warn you about anything, like the clip I've posted below. Seriously, the makers of this PSA don't even pretend there's a threat involved.



I'd totally transfer to whatever community college they've got there.

-Josh