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“They say the world is a furry place and worth fighting for. I believe the last part.”

January 17, 2011

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Page

January 8, 2011

Ever since the Facebook redesign about 6 weeks ago, I’ve noticed a few pretty small changes. The most obnoxious might be the smallest. Instead of saying where you graduated from, it simply says “Studied at.” Which threw me for something of a loop. I guess it’s more egalitarian to put “Studied at” for everyone rather than delineate between “Graduated from” and “Couldn’t get their shit together to graduate from.”

So I chalked it up to Facebook trying to please the masses, until, on a whim, I looked at Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. His page says “Studied at Harvard,” which is technically correct. He did study at Harvard. In case you don’t know the story of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, it goes like this:

Mark Zuckerberg wanted to join a social house at Harvard, but was kind of nerdy, so he ended up starting something called FaceMash, which was noticed by two guys who rowed crew…

I’m just kidding. Go see The Social Network if you don’t know the story. I hear good things!

Anyway, did Zuckerberg change the education designation on people’s profiles to “Studied at” because he’s ashamed that he didn’t graduate from college? At the risk of speculating, he ABSOLUTELY did. Boy Wonder’s got an inferiority complex. If he couldn’t hack it in college, I don’t think this guy will ever find success in the real world. Maybe Google will hire him or something. Anyway, just a random observation while viewing Zuck’s page.

Zuckerberg likes gladiator movies. A lot. This can fall under the umbrella of “Zuck has the same taste in movies as an 11 year-old,” as well. He likes Gladiator, Troy, Hero, and Fearless. I’m not saying Zuck has a gladiator fetish or anything, but I do think that his choice in movies is odd. When everyone around Kirkland House (thank you, The Social Network) was sitting around smoking pot, wanting to watch The Big Lebowski, do you think Mark was like, “Guys let’s watch Troy again!  There’s some really cool stuff you missed last time cause you were talking!” He also enjoys the HBO miniseries “Rome.” While this might raise more questions than it answers, it certainly could explain why Mark Zuckerberg is wearing sandals all the time.

Also, he likes Troy and Gladiator, but no love for Alexander? His snub of Colin Farrell and this fine film can lead me to only one conclusion: Mark Zuckerberg hates the Irish. It’s clear as day.

His musical tastes are offensive only in that they are so uninspired that they make my heart sink. He likes John Mayer and U2. He likes All-American Rejects, which is just awful, and he likes Green Day. These choices say nothing about his personality. It’s as if Mark is simply saying, “I acknowledge the existence of music. Here are some popular bands.” He also likes Radiohead and LCD Soundsystem (the only thing we have in common between our profiles) which leads me to believe that his account may have been hacked by a more interesting person.

His “other” likes include Barack Obama, several sushi restaurants, a lot of Facebook crap that no one cares about, and most interestingly, the cryptic “I stay longer in the shower because the water is so warm.”

It’s this “like” that I would “like” to focus on. First, let’s look at the syntax. Truly baffling. Does he stay longer in the shower when the water is warm, or does he stay longer in the shower than he would somewhere else because the other place doesn’t have the warm water that Zuck finds oh-so-agreeable? It’s seriously a coin flip. Longer than WHAT, Mark?

I’m going to try one:

“I sleep less in the bed because it’s so uncomfortable.” Yay! Fun! I think the title of that like may have gone through a translator program to Japanese, then back to English. This word collection makes difficult uncertainty of understanding.

I’m not done yet. Why would he put that on his wall? Who needs to know this? Does he frequently stroll in late to the offices in Palo Alto with a relaxed smile on his face going, “Sorry I’m late, guys. The water in the shower today was soooooooo warm! It was really amazing.” Zuck likes warm showers. And it’s his right to. Let’s move on.

He likes Goldeneye 64 on N64, which is totally understandable. That game is amazing.

He likes The New York Times, which makes sense because he’s Jewish.

He likes Energizer batteries, which makes me a little upset that I don’t have a favorite type of battery.

He likes fencing, which makes sense cause he’s a tiny powerful white guy with curly hair. It begs the question though: Does he like sword sports because of his affinity for gladiator and ninja movies? Or vice versa. Cause there’s definitely a causal relationship there.

He likes the Yankees. That’s just dumb. That’s like liking the IRS or rooting for the house in blackjack.

He likes the West Wing. Even after Aaron Sorkin painted him in the not-most-flattering light in The Social Network. I’m beginning to think that Zuck doesn’t spend too much time on his Facebook page. Wouldn’t it be totally fucked if I spent more time on Facebook than its creator? It would explain why he has billions of dollars and I have this laptop.

He also likes “Eliminating Desire,” which leads me to believe I may have stumbled onto the Dali Lama’s Facebook page, or possibly Richard Gere’s.

I also really like the questions that Zuck answers under the “Questions” heading. Someone asks for good smoothie places. He helpfully suggests Jamba Juice. GOOD LOOKIN’ OUT, MARK!

He also asked the populace if Rihanna writes her own music. i would think the CEO of Facebook could just fly her in and ask her himself. Or at the very least ask Chris Brown. I heard he’s available.

Well gang, this has been fun and not-at-all tedious. Let’s never do it again. From the self-declared “Mark Zuckerberg of the bedroom”: Take care.

My Three Greatest Sports Accomplishments (So Far)

January 8, 2011

Intercepting a Pitch and Running it Back for a TD – 1989

The year was 1989. On August 2nd, Iraq had invaded Kuwait, prompting the US Armed Forces to initiate Operation: Desert Shield, later to escalate to Operation: Desert Storm. America was ill at ease, and this great nation was looking for distraction and a hero.

Cut to Dallas, Texas. A young upstart named Penn Collins has recently moved to the Highland Park neighborhood, where football is king. A man without a country, Penn has no friends, no ties, and something to prove. He signs up for 4th grade YMCA football. However, his enormous carriage, even at the age of 9, prevents him from being a star. In the interest of safety, no player over 105 pounds can be handed the ball in the 4th grade league.

Relegated to the offensive line, Penn makes short work of any defensive player who is unlucky enough to cross his path. However, the glory remains elusive. But one fateful October morning (we played our games on Saturday mornings, you see) Penn and destiny would meet.

Lining up on the defensive side of the ball, he anticipated the snap count and swam through two lineman who were blocking on a slow-developing pitch play. He finds myself in the backfield with a clear line to the quarterback, but doesn’t commit. Instead, he plays the pitch, picking it off in midair at his own 20-yard line, running it back for a touchdown and the game. He gets the game ball and a high school assistant coach of our team refers to the play as “sweet.” Penn has never heard this term before and wonders why high school kids in this new town are talking like his grandmother.

Lacrosse Goal with a Broken Thumb, or “Penn’s an Amazing Athlete and Person”

Having grown up through high school in Highland Park, after 4th grade, I left the Highland Park school district to attend St. Mark’s, a private school in north Dallas. There was no love lost between the public school athletic juggernaut and the small prep school. Both schools hosted scores of well-off white boys with something to prove. How do well-off white boys determine who’s best? On the lacrosse field.

We weren’t supposed to win this game. Highland Park, despite having a newer lacrosse program, had over 400 kids per class, offering a deeper well from which to draw athletic talent. My school had around 68 kids, depending on how many of my friends had been expelled that year. It was an all boys school, so the disparity in athletics isn’t as big as it might seem.

I played attack, which is like forward in soccer. I’m the guy that scores. At this point I was about 6’4” 205, so I was able to barrel in towards the goal over smaller defenders. Despite my being a lacrosse novice, the strategy worked and I was tallying around 2-3 goals per game. Little did I know I was playing on borrowed time. The bigger Highland Park defenders had been keeping me in check as the first half drew to a close. With no more than 4 minutes left in the half, I get a pass and make my move towards the goal. The defender keeps me at bay and manages to poke-check the ball loose. It falls to the ground and as I reach to scoop it, my glove on my left (dominant) hand slides down, exposing my wrist. No sooner does that happen than another defensive player, none other than my best friend’s older brother, Rob Wilhite, belts my hand with this stick. The pain is excruciating, yet the ball remains loose. I gingerly scoop the ball, but unable to cradle it, I simply hold it in my stick like an egg on a spoon, moving towards the goal. Seeing a gap, I shoot through and launch the ball with all my might. The ball travels at maybe 20 MPH over the goalies left thigh to give us our first goal of the game.

I pull myself out of the game due to the pain and go to the training room. The trainer tells me that my thumb is fractured in two places, an assertion that is later confirmed by X-rays. I have two pins surgically inserted into my thumb during a one-hour operation that I got to watch. I still have the pins in a desk in storage.

Penn’s Legendary Basketball Evening

I’m a 14 year-old Freshman standing 6’4”. We are playing our arch-rivals, Dallas Christian, a team that has two Freshman (Jordan Black and Chu Freeman) starting for the Varsity squad, but also being brought down to play on the Freshman team. The coaches for Dallas Christian were a bunch of heartless bastards.

Anyway, I play on the Freshman team with a decent performance. I think I had like 15 points and probably around 10 boards. We won our game, and the team was feeling good about things. However, with one of the JV centers out with the flu, the coach asks if I will play for the JV team. Feeling both a sense of duty and a deep hatred of those polesmokers from Dallas Christian, I oblige. I come off the bench, but as the starting center gets in foul trouble, I see my playing time increase in the second half and am able to effectively stop Jordan Black, their 6’7” 270 pound center. I finish the game with 6 points, 8 boards, and 4 blocks. More importantly, Jordan Black finished the game with only 6 points. I did my job.

A little too well, perhaps. The Varsity coach knew that Black would be playing that game as well, so I was enlisted to play the varsity game, my third basketball game of the night. With adrenaline pumping as I warmed up (though I really didn’t need a warm-up at this point) with the Varsity team, I decided to leave it all out on Dallas Christian’s ugly basketball court.

I play in front of Black all night, shutting him the fuck down. He is winded after playing as many games as I have, but I’m showing no signs of faltering, running the court on fast breaks and shutting down passing lanes as soon as they’re found. (I credit my newly-acquired smoking habit that year for the endurance.)
Penn: 12 points, 9 boards
Gigantaur: 6 points, 5 boards.

We overachieve and win the game with two Jace Musselman free throws at the end, and Penn gets three game balls for three games. In one night. Fuck yeah.

This song…

January 4, 2011

…is THE song to play when you are chasing your skeptical girlfriend who is pulling away from the bus station but you get the bus driver to pull over cause he sees that look in your eye and he’s been there before so your girlfriend gets off the bus incredulously as you sit there pleading in your smart Banana Republic outfit which is a change for you cause you used to ONLY wear hoodies but having to take care of your seven-year old twin nieces while your sister was sick (she’s better now) really opened your eyes that you can’t keep spinning your wheels like this and at some point everyone has to grow up and you’re not the same person you three months ago when your girlfriend stormed out of the comic book store because now you’re getting a small business loan and you’re going to open that organic pet store because the conditions in hamster mills are disgusting and you have a social conscience now and if she could just give you another chance then she would see all this.

An Non-exhaustive List of Things You Can Do That Are As Cool As Going to See Radiohead Play an Unannounced Show in a Small Club

January 3, 2011

Going out to a bar and realizing that, over the course of the night you made TWO black friends.

Get a Golden Retriever, name it “Bandit,” then tie a bandana around his/her neck.

Being the pioneer of whatever type of art is going to be cool now that street art has been totally co-opted by poseurs. (Hat tip to Exit Through the Gift Shop)

Going to TED and giving a speech on net neutrality.

Understanding that previous sentence.

Just saying offhand, “I’m starving. Wanna grab some Thai food?” So sweet…

I Hate Mad Men (but I Don’t Want To)

December 30, 2010

“Mad Men Fever.” I apparently am a carrier or have been vaccinated, as I am three seasons into this show and feel less than Betty does at this point. There is no discernible plot, but it’s rather “watch these awful people find new ways to make themselves miserable.” I fell for that shit with “Six Feet Under” and managed to shrug off the more miserable “Tell Me You Love Me.” Great name for a show, by the way. Psych.

Mad Men takes place in 1960’s Manhattan, which begins and ends the list of things that make the show interesting. If it wasn’t for this nicotine yellow-stained backdrop, Bravo Television Corp would probably be addressing a class action suit that names them as the reason that so many viewers have crammed their television remotes directly into their eye sockets.

When I think of the gravitas with which this show presents itself, my thoughts immediately turn to the rock band Creed, who also lack the self-actualization to laugh at themselves. Whether or not you’re a music fan, you should know that a comparison to Creed, unless it’s inverted, is a really, really awful thing to say about something.

My gripes:

They kicked the closeted gay character off the show before he had a chance to really “gay it up.” That’s crap. This show is so painfully realistic that it makes me want to tone down my behavior while I’m laying on the couch watching it. I understand that the 1960’s were probably a hostile climate for gays, but in a television show, they could be a time of FABULOUSNESS. Ok, that’s pretty stupid, but constantly denying the viewer some of the juicier plotlines to afford more screentime to terse interaction and thinly-veiled? Now that’s what I call gay. (Like lame, not homosexual.)

Nobody has manners. Nobody says “Thanks, Peggy.” Or “I think it’s really great that you’re not behaving like a robot programmed to kill, Betty.” It’s always, “I’m fine.” punctuated with someone walking away asking if they should close the door. I’m not foolish enough to think that they producers are trying to develop likable characters and failing, but that leads me to my next point:

Why aren’t there any likable characters? The only character I like in the whole show is Sally, despite the fact that she’s on a path to turn into Eileen Wuornos in about 20 years. Peggy’s cute and interesting, but in the way a candlestick or Japanese orange juicer is, not a human. She has a quiet moxie, which is funny, cause at the very second I figured otu that she held that charactersitic I also figured out what I don’t respond to on television as a viewer and a man (boy) – quiet moxie. The show is a soup, the cauldron of which contains seething bosses, dead-on-the-inside wives (and not the funny ones like Arrested Development), unfaithful husbands that years ago undermine whatever sex appeal they might have. Can’t they have an orphan boy with emphysema that hobbles around the office bringing people coffee and cigarrettes and telling the crying secretaries that JFK is now an angel in heaven? How cute would that be? Infinity. It would be infinity cute. His name could be Jamie, and he could have a British accent. Infinity +2 cute.

Humor/self-awareness of the show? Not applicable. I’m pretty sure this show is made in a lab where everyone has to wear yellow haz-mat suits and if a fly gets into the lab, they have to shut down the season until the fly is removed. That metaphor sucked, so I’ll be more direct. This show has zero spontenaity. It doesn’t feel fun. I realize I’m probably coming off as a (sexy) valley girl, wondering where all the fun is, but I don’t really watch television where the sole payout is a human emotion. There are no wacky plots. Don and Betty go to Rome with Conrad Hilton! That episode might as well have been staged in a rest stop Arby’s during a blizzard. These people are robots, so even the payout of human interaction is a pipe dream. Here’s how we tell if Don Draper is having a normal day: 32 cigarettes, 6 scotches, 1 boned mistress. Bad day? 40 cigarettes, 7 scotches, 1 boned mistress. Great day? 40 cigarettes, 7 scotches, 1 boned mistress. You can try to tell me that their emotions are conveyed in the intricacies of their reactions, but you had better make a damn good argument, cause I’m not seeing it. You want to see the full range of human emotions? Put a camera on me while I watch an episode of “Mad Men.” I will show you the gamut of reactions, ranging from frustration to quiet rage to loud rage, to hopelessness, to sadness, and finally, once the credits roll, you will see acceptance. Acceptance that I just sat through another episode with nothing to show for it but a craving for both cigarettes and married women.

While that last part was a joke, I have found myself looking internally more and more during this show. I figure if these assholes aren’t going to react to the myriad circumstances in which they find themselves, then I’ll be the bigger person and do it for them. If Peggy is just going to sit in the kitchen with her thousand-yard stare, then Penn will do the dirty work for her.

“Guess what, Don? Penn’s leaving your straying ass! And he’s taking the kids! if you need me, I’ll be at my sister’s in Poughkeepsie! Also, I blew that congressman we had a fundraiser for!”

You can tell how suppressed I have been during this whole affair because of the number of exclamation points I dropped above. I bet the screenwriters of “Mad Men” had the exclamation points popped off of their keyboards their first day of work. Which would also mean they can’t type a numeric “1.” Interesting.

I do like how they just leap forward in time indiscriminately between seasons. I used to think that was their way of being a little playful and ethereal with their narrative devices. Now I just think it’s the only way they can get something to happen on this painfully slow-developing show. “Pete’s marriage is on the rocks? Well, let’s just suggest that it is, then make him single when we start next season.” Well, fuck me sideways with a lunchbox, guys. That seems like a moment of high drama that you would want to include. Instead, they dropped the whole adoption thing so that they could develop that simply divine “sugar daddy-houseboy” relationship between Conrad Hilton and Don Draper. That’s been a real thrill ride.

“Don, I’m giving you the Hilton New York accounts.”
(Focused scowl from Draper)
“Don, I’m taking back the New York accounts.”
(Focused scowl from Draper.)
“I think of you as more than a son, Don. Despite the fact that we’ve had nothing but an arm’s length professional relationship for three months.
(Focused scowl from Draper.)
“i’m gonna go work on a new David Spade pilot for TBS now, Don.”
(Focused scowl from Draper.)

And here are my thoughts on Pete Campbell: Pete Campbell sucks. He wants to go out with the guys cause his wife’s away, and he ends up bending over backwards to make out with a fugly German au pair. Why do I want to watch that? That’s lame. He’s pathetic. I get that that’s what they’re trying to convey. These people are desperate, and sometimes desperate people can do some pretty awesome stuff on television. Look no further than Bravo’s “Breaking Bad.” It’s the best show on TV, in my amazing opinion. And all the characters on that show are shitty people as well, but there are some pretty extraordinary circumstances that they go through that makes you question them and yourself. In “Mad Men”, people react to the Kennedy assassination the same way. They watch TV and cry. That’s NOT an extraordinary situation. I did that on 9/11 and so did everyone else. Well, I didn’t cry, but I stared vacantly at the TV all day, then I went to the most empty bar I’d ever been to in my life. Not compelling television.

As a writer and consequently, a critic, of pop culture, I will be the first to admit that the breadth of my expertise doesn’t afford me much depth. I don’t have the time or inclination to juxtapose “Modern Family” with the halcyon days of “The Donna Reed Show.” I’m not a TV critic. I’m not even much of a TV enthusiast, and shows like “Mad Men” are the reason why. So not being a TV critic, I am forced to an algorithm for evaluating shows, books, movies, and music. My algorithm generally consists of “What’s the point?” Sometimes if I’m feeling a little funky, I’ll change the question to “Why are they doing this?” And if I’m in a bad mood, or the show really sucks, I normally jump off with the question “Why hasn’t someone stopped these people from continuing to make this?”

So what’s the point of “Mad Men?” The stories aren’t extraordinary, they’re actually quite mundane. The characters are painfully realistic, but those guys that can paint pictures that look like photographs are never considered the best of class. Similarly, I don’t understand why the producers get so much credit for their work. It seems like they’re doing very little. The plot develops with the speed of a Special Olympic hurdler, which has recently been deemed virtuous since The Wire was praised as “gritty,” and critics lauded the delayed gratification that it parsed out so sparingly.

There are things that I like about “Mad Men.” I think the outfits are neat. I liked the totally fucked take on gender issues that the show danced with in the first season then abandoned. The reason for the abandonment is clear. The show started off as a group of people working in an office. However, since the first season, these office characters have really failed to engage each other, instead going off on their own trajectories. It feels like these people are all characters in the same show because that’s where they started. But now, with all the business formality that takes place at C-S, I scratch my head and wonder why Peggy and Joan are even on the same show as Don Draper. Sure, I’m going to find out in season 4 that Peggy had Pete’s baby for some reason, but it’s been 40 episodes, guys. If I keep looking forward I won’t be able to enjoy the awesome things unfolding right under my nose. Like the well-tailored suits and fine scotches. And…that’s it.

A List of Horrible Superpowers

December 17, 2010

– Netflix Man – Can return Netflix movies immediately after watching them, guaranteeing he is getting the most movies for his monthly fees.

– Fro-Yo Captain – Can tell exactly how much frozen yogurt is in his cup by weight so he doesn’t check out, only to find his eyes were telling him that he needed $8 of frozen yogurt to fill that black hole in his heart.

– Dr. Palestine – At any mention of injustice, Dr. Palestine pipes in, “Just like the Jews did with Palestine.” Especially horrible if Dr. Palestine lives in Israel or Manhattan, or works in entertainment.

– The Trite Wit – Capable of dropping a “that’s what she said!” at the perfect time, and without overusing it. The rarest superpower of all…

– Cat Food Boy – Can open thousands of tins of cat food on end without getting repulsed and making a stupid face.

– Principals Girl – She can watch an iPod commercial, hear the song they play, and not immediately run to Google to see who sings it. She also has distain for those who playback the commercial on DVR, then Shazaam it.