Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guys, it's pretty simple--if Ronald Reagan touched it, you don't get to

Bill Kelly writes a recurring column in the Washington Times called "Bill Kelly's Truth Squad".  Ostensibly, this column is a forum where "A conservative satirist takes on the worlds of politics and entertainment in humorous pursuit of truth, justice and all things America."  Looking at his recent work, I'm not really seeing the "humorous pursuit" part:

Anyway, his most recent work is titled, "Reagan's home could become a parking lot for Obama's library".  It's a terrifying description of a present-day Cold War where Obama seeks to relentlessly destroy all historical landmarks related to past presidents!  No, really--see for yourself:

CHICAGO, Illinois, January 25, 2013 - A new Cold War is brewing here in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and it has nothing to do with the frigid temperature.

Just for fun, I'm going to keep track of all the items in this column that could be classified as "jokes"Since I am assuming that Bill Kelly is aware that the Cold War was not started by cold temperatures, I will begrudgingly give him credit for +1 joke there.

The apartment building at 832 E. 57th Street was once the Chicago home of a boy who would become a President.

No, it’s not Barack Obama of Hawaii.

Nice job, reminding us that Obama was born in Hawaii.  This seems like a vague dig at Obama not being American, but I don't really get it.  +0 jokes.

It was at the apartment’s first floor window that a young Ronald Reagan looked out upon the world. 

But some powerful Chicagoans are planning to demolish Reagan’s historic home.

Did you tell them that Reagan looked through the window?  I'm shocked that didn't sway them.  Here's how I assume Bill ranks potential historical sites in order of importance:
  1. Reagan looked at, through, or nearby a part of the building (double if he touched anything)
  2. Biblical figure appears in shower mold and/or toast
  3. Places that have something to do with actual historical events
+0 jokes.

Is it politically motivated? Is Mayor Rahm Emanuel behind the move? 

I gave it some thought, and I decided that I might injure my neck if I shake my head as much as this question deserves.  I will allow this dog to take care of it for me.  Also, +0 jokes.

It was a different world back in 1915. Reagan's family had moved here from Tampico, Illinois. His father had gotten a job at the famed Marshall Field’s – now only a memory. A coin-operated gas lamp was the only home’s only source of heat.  
What is a "coin-operated gas lamp"?  It doesn't appear to be a real thing, at least as far as I can tell.  +0 jokes.

But it didn’t stop a young “Dutch” Reagan from dreaming.

I have no clue what "Dutch" means there.  Is Reagan from a Dutch family?  Did young Reagan insist on splitting the tab equally on dates?  Something about jump-roping?  +0 jokes.

Young Reagan would watch the horse-drawn fire engines galloping wildly down the streets to save the day and he decided that he, too, would become a firefighter. It was here, too, that he survived a bout with pneumonia – he had the fight in him even then. 

You can almost imagine him skipping down these streets, playing with his brother Neil,  whose nickname was “Moon.” 

Great anecdotes, guy.  If you can imagine it so well, why do we need the building?  Just use your imagination-pictures of what Reagan was doing in 1915.  Also, I'm suspicious of anyone being nicknamed "Moon".  How does that even happen? 

Now, the University of Chicago Medical Center has announced plans to turn Reagan’s Chicago home into a parking lot.

In 2012, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks denied Reagan’s home landmark status. The University of Chicago set demolition for January and the bulldozers quickly moved in. The wrecking balls are ready.

A "plaque" could mark the historic spot instead, say university representatives.  

A "plaque"??? Just one?  There should be a plaque for every time he was inspired to fight for America when playing with his brother Moon, and a statue, and a hologram of Reagan playing on the street as a child that other children can interact with and be inspired.  Also, +0 jokes.

While the university is planning to kill Reagan’s home, University of Chicago is also aggressively lobbying to be the site of President Barack Obama’s presidential library. 

The presidential library won't be built for another <checks watch> four years, buddy.  Also, the word for what we do do demolish buildings isn't "kill".  That just sounds over-dramatic and like you want the situation to sound worse than it actually is.

Could the Reagan site become a parking lot for Obama’s library? Opponents of the demolition say yes.

There is good reason for them to be suspicious. 

First Lady Michelle Obama and the president’s close advisor Valerie Jarrett are former top executives of the University of Chicago Medical Center. President Obama was a lecturer at the law school for twelve years. And let’s not forget, Obama’s Hyde Park home is here too. 

Some people connected to Obama used to work at the university and he used to live nearby!  He probably has ultimate control over the local historical society and how they determine what is and is not a landmark.  +0 jokes.
This is still Chicago. Barack Obama’s Chicago. Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago.

It is safe to say that Democrats don’t want any reminders of a Republican president named Reagan and his glory days a stone’s throw from a future Obama Presidential Library.

It is safe to say that you have given this more thought than anyone involved with planning the library four years from now.  You are aware Democrats aren't mindlessly enraged to the point of destruction by seeing things that remind them of Reagan, yes?  You seem to be equating it to how bulls see red capes.

Better to raze the building now, than later. But do they have the right to erase Ronald Reagan from Chicago history? 

Erase him from Chicago history?  They are tearing down a house he one time briefly lived in.  They aren't trying to scrub him from textbooks or anything.  As it happens, Reagan is better known in Chicago for the time he was calling a Cubs game when the wire that was providing the play-by-play to him went dead, so he fabricated an at-bat involving a record number of foul balls to delay the broadcast until the wire was back up.  Is Obama behind the efforts to renovate Wrigley Field, too?  It certainly seems suspicious, right? 

Only time – and that wrecking ball - will tell. 

For what it's worth, time has kind of already told, in that the historical society decided the house won't be a landmark.  Grand total of jokes in the column: one, and even that was pretty borderline. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

ESPN running out of stories for the Super Bowl, now inventing debates between President Obama and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh

Full credit to ESPN for choosing extremely captionable photos.
I would say that they could have chosen a better photo of Jim Harbaugh, but the available images don't really offer a lot of options that make him look better.  I sometimes worry about 49ers players and if they're getting the love and support they need, because it would appear that Jim doesn't really know emotions other than angry (not to be confused with noted walrus Andy Reid, who only knows hungry).  Here's a collection of some of Jim's professional work, a portfolio, if you will, for no particular reason.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Joe Flacco's father has no misconceptions about his son's charisma

Joe responded, "Alright, Dad, but my new stache is cool.  As cool as people say it is, it's that cool.  It is cool."

Meanwhile in Russia, you are apparently allowed to drive pretty much anything on the highway

I imagine that Russians find American gun control debates quite adorable.

Highlights from the Pro Bowl!

Just kidding, the Pro Bowl has no highlights.  There were some fun moments, like when Eli threw a pick six and forgot that he doesn't have to make his disappointed interception face in a meaningless game:

Also, there was this onside kick attempt, which the audience responded to with a hearty, "oh, that was kinda cool, I guess."  It's the Pro Bowl, so expectations have to be set pretty low.

 Pictured here: the best moment of individual play by a Cleveland Brown in the 2012-13 season.
 .gifs courtesy of KSK

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's almost time for the Super Bowl! Do you know how to watch a football?

Do you meet the following criteria?
  • Live in the United States
  • Work in a place where other people work also
  • Have $50
  • Don't know how football works
If so, there is now an allegedly useful class you can take to rectify the last two items!

The course is taught by a Diane Darling, so I decided to research (read: google) what else she does when she's not teaching people how to watch football.  Unfortunately, obstacles!

Fucking robots!
Going to the site itself yielded similar results:

Reading this aloud with the ellipses causes you to sound like Christopher Walken.
This exhausted my patience for research, so I gave up at this time.  Returning to our original topic (how to watch football games), here's what Diane has to say about her class.

DISCLOSURE - This event was filmed in front of a live audience at the British Consulate in Boston, MA on January 8, 2013 at the chapter meeting of the Greater Boston ASTD .

With Super Bowl  is around the corner, I decided to upload the class so you can enjoy right away rather than spend hours perfecting the video.

Diane, while we're on the topic of oddly specific how-to classes, would you be interested in my course on "How to use grammatically correct sentences in articles describing courses on how to watch American football games"?  [editor's note: that sentence might be grammatically incorrect.  If so, it's supposed to be ironic or something.]

Welcome to Water Cooler Football - where football and networking meet to have fun!
"To have fun" is a bizarre addendum to that particular sentence, because subjects, objects and verbs are things that matter.

You’re at a party with a football game on, people cheer and you have no idea what happened – do you feel left out? 

Here's a free tip from me--if people are cheering, you can do one of two things to fit in.  Either just cheer whenever they do, or remain silent and if anyone asks just say you're a Cleveland fan.  They'll nod their head in a knowing and sympathetic manner and be none the wiser as to your football ignorance.

At a meeting someone says, “let’s do an end run” – do you feel lost?  

Not as lost as mayor Rob Ford of Toronto feels when he tries to actually do an end run!

This is a pretty good approximation of how  pretty much everything Rob Ford does in public goes.
When you hear “football” do you think people mean soccer?

That is an extremely odd question.  If the answer to the question is yes, the question will make no sense.  If the answer is no, it's such a mind-numbingly silly question that it still makes no sense.  It's like a zen koan, if the word koan means what I currently believe it means, which I'd say is about a 50/50 proposition.

If you don't know how to watch a football, you maybe left out.

This is pretty much my favorite sentence of ever.  Am I doing it right?

Fuck!  So close.
This can have a negative impact on your career and perhaps social life.

Forgetting to watch a football has certainly had a negative impact on Jermichael Finley's career!  ZING

You'll also learn some best practices for networking. How to pick your events (aka "whether report")

Frankly, I have no idea what a "whether report" is, so I'm not even sure we're talking about football anymore.

how to get into a conversation, and .... how to get out of one.

That is the most ominous way possible to write that sentence.  It suggests that any beginner can get into a conversation about football, but only the experts will be able to extricate themselves later.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen a group of football novices start chatting, only to realize that they are stuck in the conversation forever.

Learn how to be a part of the game with tips and from Gene and Diane. (And wait until you hear how they met!)

Do I care how they met?  No.  No, I do not.

Regarding Gary Busey and my newfound phobia of inner tubes

Ever wondered if it's possible to fuck an inner tube?  Gary Busey has the answer.  I've always felt that "flabbergasted" is a word that people should only be able to use once in their lives, because that would make it special and it seems like a word that shouldn't be used lightly.  I'm thoroughly flabbergasted by this whole video, and by Gary Busey, and I do not want to go tubing ever again.  Video involves some NSFW language, if that was not apparent already.

The Internet does not always solve all of my problems

So, I just spent about thirty minutes trying to figure out if there is any way to set an animated gif to play a sound along with it, because these are the things that I do with my time, I guess.  .gifs are an image file format, so obviously they can't contain any audio data, but I really would have thought that someone would have made a website where you can upload a gif, upload an audio track, and have it spit out a video combining the two.  The closest I was able to come was, which as far as I can tell shows you a gif next to a Youtube video while hiding the video so you hear the sound and watch the gif.  Anyway, if anyone knows how to take my results here and make a single file from it, let me know.  In the meantime, hit play on this:
And watch this:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Obama Culture Arrives, in the form of various aging celebrities

L. Brent Bozell III writes for, a well-known bastion of responsible journalism online.

Well, okay, maybe not "responsible".  "Journalism" might be a stretch, too.
Today, he has some thoughts about the "Obama Culture", and who the cultural winners of Obama's America are.  Off the top of my head, I'd assume it'd be individuals and groups who are invested in cultural issues like gay marriage, abortion rights, the whole Obamacare debate, that sort of thing, but I'm really excited to find out what Bozell thinks, because I bet it's way crazier than that!

The year 2012 was a depressing time for people who are already pessimistic about the state of our common culture. Conversely, the re-election of Barack Obama, in large measure made possible by the heavy financial support of Hollywood, projects the optimism of the cultural Left. They anticipate increased blue-state voting patterns in favor of gay "marriage," legalized pot, gun regulations, and what next? Legalized prostitution? Euthanasia subsidized by Obamacare?

"Subsidized by Obamacare" doesn't really make sense, but whatever.  I actually have to admire Bozell for possessing some shred of restraint; while legalized prostitution and euthanasia aren't likely to be actual issues anytime soon, they are real things that could potentially exist.  I was expecting something more outrageous: "What's next?  Prostitution subsidized by Obamacare?  Pot 'marriage'?"

 So let's just line up the cultural winners of Obama's America, where the only impediments to progress are those who believe in religion, manners and "family values."

 I like how he just threw "manners" in there.  Not only does Obama hate his own religion and families, but he's also just so rude, you know?  You know what else is rude: when you go on television and say that the President looks like a skinny crackhead.  Not like that would happen ever, just a thing I was thinking about randomly.

Winner: Seth MacFarlane, the creator of the sick "Family Guy" cartoon and other Fox animated smutcoms on Sunday nights. 

Amusing side note: this article was reposted on Fox News.

He'll mock anything to shock the viewer, from portraying Jesus as a lying drunk, to joking Ronald Reagan was gay, even to making fun of domestic violence. Tinseltown loves this man. He guest-hosted "Saturday Night Live" in their season debut, was named host of the 2013 Academy Awards telecast and ABC's Barbara Walters named him one of the year's 10 "Most Fascinating People."

Again, Bozell gets points for restraint, because on his scale of "shocking", domestic violence rates higher than joking about Reagan being gay.  I would have assumed that a CNS news writer would think a joke about Reagan was a borderline breach of the Ten Commandments at this point.  I feel like I'm being somewhat liberal with these restraint points, but I can't help but be amazed when an article like this drunkenly veers in the general direction of sanity, even for just a moment.

"Seth is the vision and the sensibility behind America's most popular and profitable cartoon series," Walters cooed. "Seth is a hands-on mastermind." She proclaimed, "The 'Family Guy' franchise is said to be worth nearly 2 billion dollars." She concluded by promoting his Oscar hosting gig: "In two months, hundreds of millions will be watching this writer, producer, actor, cartoonist, singer, multi-millionaire and all-around genius, and we'll all find out just how far Seth MacFarlane can go."

MacFarlane's filthy semi-animated movie, "Ted," grossed (literally grossed) 

Yuk yuk yuk!
$218 million at the box office. This was the movie described efficiently as "a boy's teddy bear comes to life and becomes a profane slacker who practically lives inside a bong and hires hookers in groups." The most unnecessary scene of the year was this teddy bear coming on to a sleazy fellow employee by not only doing pelvic thrusts, but also by spraying himself in the face with hand lotion — a porny orgasm shot on a child's toy. 

Don't worry, guys!  Bozell probably has a really good way to connect this back to his original point, which was...oh, it was that certain people in Obama's culture are "winners" and something something family values.  Well, then.

That's "sensibility," says the Obama culture.

I don't get it.  What are the quotes for?  Did someone say this?  Is there something I'm missing that in any way connects Obama and "Ted"?  There's nothing here that indicates that Seth McFarlane and Obama are in any way related, except that McFarlane made an inappropriate movie last year and OH MY GOD IS OBAMA FORCING HOLLYWOOD TO SUBVERT FAMILY VALUES WITH GROSS MOVIES

Winner: MacFarlane's older sidekick, Bill Maher, the toxic atheist HBO star and the epitome of self-indulgent Hollywood liberalism, a man who shamelessly denounces the rest of America as a nation of idiots.

Maher wrote a million-dollar check to Obama's Super PAC Priorities U.S.A.
The liberal media labored mightily to connect Mitt Romney to Donald Trump, but have said almost nothing to connect Maher to Obama.

I mean, Maher gave Obama money and supported him, and Trump did the same for Romney, and both of these facts are pretty much common knowledge now, and how is this relevant to your point about the Obama culture?  

Maher had another year of vicious commentary. Late in the campaign, he joked, "If you're thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, I would like to make this one plea: black people know who you are, and they will come after you." After Obama's victory, Maher joked about Karl Rove, "It was a little Hitler's bunker, wasn't it? I wanted to rush in with a cyanide capsule there."

I mean, we can all agree on the fact that Bill Maher is a dick, so okay.

He summed up the election this way: "It is your choice, America, because for me it is a win-win. If it's Obama, America wins, and if it's Romney, comedy wins." Maher has set the tone: Comedy is strictly deployed against the people who don't like Obama. 

Hey, what about that joke you made earlier about how gross "Ted" was?  You're violating the Obama comedy deployment regulations.  Please report to Sector Five for cultural reprogramming.

If that feels like a Third World backwater to you, welcome to the Obama culture.

Bozell's definition of Third World country: a place where comedy cannot freely be used because Bill Maher said so.  I must say that the whole far-right panic over Obama ruining America makes much more sense if we accept that America can be ruined by minor celebrities saying stupid shit on television. 

Winner: Roseanne Barr. 

Fun fact: Roseanne Barr ran for President in 2012 for two different political parties, has announced her candidacy for Prime Minister of Israel, and said that Wall Street Bankers should be beheaded or sent to re-education camps if they don't agree to massive fines.  OBAMA CULTURE
Can we stop for a second?  All of these people who are allegedly Obama's cultural winners are really not new faces on the scene.  McFarlane became prominent when Bill Clinton was president in 1999.  Barr and Maher both arrived in the early 1980s, under Ronald Reagan.  If these people represent a new Obama worldview, they were absolute visionaries.  Maybe I'm unclear on what exactly "cultural winners of Obama's America" means, but none of these people seems to be more than remotely related to Obama in any way whatsoever. They aren't exactly great representatives of the current culture, nor do they have much to gain from Obama winning the election, and frankly it just seems like you picked people that you hope your readership would find offensive in the hopes that their mindless anger would overcome any desire they might have to read an article that makes actual sense.

She just won't go away. She was honored as comedic trailblazer for women with a Comedy Central roast. Katey Sagal, who played a foolish bimbo mom on "Married with Children," used the occasion to whack at Ann Romney: "Roseanne, I feel honored that you and I broke new ground as TV moms who didn't cook, didn't clean and didn't make any money. In the '90s, that made you a bad mom. But today it makes you Mitt Romney's wife."

Mrs. Romney, you may seek help here.

Roseanne also exemplified the Obama culture's reaction to Chick-fil-A, in several Christian-bashing Twitter rants in July, including: "Anyone who eats S—t Fil-A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4Christ". Then came the geopolitics: "Off to grab a s—it fil-A sandwich on my way to worshiping Christ, supporting AIPAC and war in Iran."

One of the very best things about the internet is that after a prolonged election campaign during which Chik-Fil-A played a prominent role in demonstrating some of the key cultural conflicts between the involved parties, we have a full record of what everyone said about Chik-Fil-A.  Let's take a look at what Obama said, so we can better understand what an Obama culture would look like, vis-a-vis chicken sandwiches:

For those who don't enjoy math, let me sincerely not apologize for this. 

As math-inclined people and those who had to take real college courses instead of satisfying their requirements with courses titled "The Way Things Work" will already know, that means that Obama said not one thing about Chik-Fil-A.  I'm not sure Ms. Barr's comments "exemplify" the Obama culture, at least in this regard.  As for worshiping Christ, supporting AIPAC, and threatening war with Iran, those are all things Obama actually does, so I'm not sure how mocking them counts as part of his culture. 

Winner: Howard Stern. NBC parted with $20 million to bring in the old shock-jock as a sharp-tongued judge on their summer show "America's Got Talent." The ratings dropped, but in the Obama culture, that's not really the point. 

The point is...?  You missed a great opportunity to make up a point, like "requiring that gun control laws also apply to military units" or "creating a new Disneyworld only open to gay couples so that kids will want to be gay".

NBC just announced Stern signed a new contract for 2013 to repeat his "towering presence and opinions," because his "dedication comes across in a genuine way to our viewers who share his passion." 

The slogan for Team Obama in 2012 was "Forward." There's nothing forward about the Obama culture, however. It is down, down, straight down, into the abyss.

You just wrote an entire article alleging that the Obama culture is upon us and doom, destruction, etc.  Every single "example" you gave to support this is just a person who happens to exist while Obama is President, and at no point did you demonstrate any connection between any of them and Obama.  Using that process, you could have made the Obama culture be absolutely anything you wanted it to be, and you went with older celebrities who are kinda assholes and sorta liberal.  I guess that's worth one more restraint point, for a grand total of three.  Feel free to turn those in for any of our great prizes on your way out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today in science, we use misinterpretation to confirm high school gender stereotypes

A recent scientific study found that girls who discuss their personal problems with others might actually suffer from dwelling on those problems too much, which seems somewhat logical and worthy of further study (especially since boys did not show similar issues in the study).  Of course, various media outlets have been reporting on this story in an open-minded and completely honest fashion:

Somehow we went from "dwelling on personal problems is not ideal" to "girls at risk of talking too much".

On the other hand:
If it doesn't seem useful to teenage boys, it's safe to assume that it isn't useful to any males ever.  Yep, that checks out.

A brief summary of news you may have missed over the weekend, as well as an Alex Jones story from 2010

  • The city of Edmonton, Canada has seen a surge of interest in naked yoga, despite a winter where temperatures average less than 0 degrees Fahrenheit.  Instructor Chris McBain: "For some it’s about naturalism and just being nude and for other people it’s just a bucket list endeavour." 
  • From the 2010 archives: Well-known radio host and general asshole Alex Jones claimed that he has documents proving the government is introducing chemicals into juice boxes, potato chips, and the water supply which are causing children to become gay.  Jones said, "After [little boys] are done drinking your juices, [they're] ready to go out and have a baby... [they're] ready to put together a garden of roses... [they're] ready to go put lipstick on..."  It's pretty crazy to think that at the time, people must have thought it was literally impossible for him to sound more insane than this!  Live and learn, I guess. 
  • Kerry County in Ireland has moved to legalize "moderate" drunk driving in order to allow lonely older people to get out and socialize without worrying that they might lose their license.  "These people that are being isolated at present, all the wisdom and all the wit and all the culture that they had, the music and the singing, that’s all being lost to the younger generation because these older people might as well be living in Japan and Jerusalem because the younger generation don’t see them at all anymore. These characters are being isolated now at home, and a lot of them falling into depression."  This being Ireland, the idea of driving and simply not drinking has not occurred to anyone.

Thanks to Merrie for the Kerry County link

Well, that's one less thing to worry about

From the Japan Times:

What exactly is a libido the size of an ocean liner? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

One! Ten! 1 10 11 100!

On the minus side, you'd think robots that can play rock music are probably not that different than the robots that will inevitably seize military control of the world.  On the plus side, if they keep going in this direction, they'll all develop drug problems and become burnouts before they make anything of themselves.

That's a point for Virginia, but Florida is still way ahead

In the competition for head-shakingly bizarre occurrences, that is.  Today, we visit Craigslist of Norfolk, VA after which I invite all of you to join me in reaching for the nearest stuffed animal and shuddering uncontrollably.

Is there some sort of award for having the most unique Craigslist request?  Because you win, forever.

Watching people trying to play soccer with binoculars taped to their faces is highly entertaining

Next, I'd like to see a binoculars team against a team that has taken hallucinogens.  Science, make it happen!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Regarding how Stevan Ridley, starting running back for the New England Patriots, stays warm

With rainbow boots and a onesie:

When it's totally acceptable for you to wear this to meet with the media, you've pretty much made it.

It's time for music learning

How to Keyboard:

One time when I was 11 I played in a "keyboard group" where seven of us played keyboards set to sound like various types of synthesizers.  The song we played was kinda similar to the Star Wars theme but not quite the same, although it was called the Intergalactic March or something like that.  That moment was literally the pinnacle of my musical contributions to society thus far, although with the knowledge I've gained since then I can't help but think that seven sixth-graders playing synthesizers must have sounded roughly like a roll of duct tape going through a garbage disposal.

How to Organ: 


How to Xylophone:

  Source: Cracked

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Oh come on Florida, keep your bears in check

Apparently in Florida, people just keep grizzly bear cubs around, because Florida.  I guess they need to protect themselves from gator attacks or something.  Of course, occasionally they escape, and that's a problem:

Yes, what should we do if we run into a bear cub?  This seems like useful information.

Uhh...I hope you're right.  The use of the word "likely" in the last sentence is not a real confidence booster.

Nowhere is American ingenuity more apparent than in our local automobile advertising

At no point does Cal have much to say about cars, but dude is strapping himself to the top of planes because that's how much he wants to sell you a car.  Also, the banjos in this are fierce.

OK, there's a decent chance this isn't real, but I don't care.

This one has about a .001% chance of being real.  We can dream, though.

h/t Jesse for informing me of the existence of the "Fuck You Baltimore" video

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Romance is dead. Thanks, NOKIA

Alex Williams writes today in the New York Times that young people are continuing to have trouble with dating because they're all texting and gchatting and shit, and now the young people are growing up into confused twenty-somethings who don't get why "uwana d8 lol" isn't an appropriate method of courtship.  Mr. Williams, take it away:

MAYBE it was because they had met on OkCupid. But when the dark-eyed musician with artfully disheveled hair asked Shani Silver, a social media and blog manager in Philadelphia, out on a “date” Friday night, she was expecting at least a drink, one on one. 

Fair enough. 

“At 10 p.m., I hadn’t heard from him,” said Ms. Silver, 30, who wore her favorite skinny black jeans. Finally, at 10:30, he sent a text message. “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?” he wrote, before adding, “I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.” 

It sounds like the problem is less anything to do with OkCupid or people in general, and more that this one dude has no clue what the word "date" means.

Turned off, she fired back a text message, politely declining. But in retrospect, she might have adjusted her expectations. “The word ‘date’ should almost be stricken from the dictionary,” Ms. Silver said. “Dating culture has evolved to a cycle of text messages, each one requiring the code-breaking skills of a cold war spy to interpret.”

Here, let me try!  He texted, “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?  I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”  Let's apply the secret decoder ring:

Looks like what he was trying to communicate was “Hey, I’m at Pub & Kitchen, want to meet up for a drink or whatever?  I’m here with a bunch of friends from college.”  Don't feel bad--I do have this awesome decoder ring, so I'm basically a cold war spy.  Anyway, the problem here appears to still just be that this one dude doesn't know what a date is, or has some really weird ideas about group dating with his college friends, or he's a dark-eyed musician with disheveled hair and with that whole Twilight craze people are into that right now so he doesn't really have to put much effort into dating, you know?

“It’s one step below a date, and one step above a high-five,” she added. Dinner at a romantic new bistro? Forget it. Women in their 20s these days are lucky to get a last-minute text to tag along. Raised in the age of so-called “hookup culture,” millennials — who are reaching an age where they are starting to think about settling down — are subverting the rules of courtship. 

You guys, they're breaking the rules and it's changing everything.  As an aside, if you want to get dinner at a romantic new bistro, one good way to make that happen is ask someone "Do you want to get dinner at <name of romantic new bistro>?"  A less good way is to hope that they guess that you want to do that and then talk about how their code words are inscrutable.

Instead of dinner-and-a-movie, which seems as obsolete as a rotary phone, they rendezvous over phone texts, Facebook posts, instant messages and other “non-dates” that are leaving a generation confused about how to land a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Hey, I'm 25 and I'm not confused at all!  I just go up to people and ask "Can I land you as my boyfriend or girlfriend?"  They're usually a bit unclear as to why I used the word "land" and said both boyfriend and girlfriend, and the response is pretty much the same every time.

“The new date is ‘hanging out,’ ” said Denise Hewett, 24, an associate television producer in Manhattan, who is currently developing a show about this frustrating new romantic landscape. As one male friend recently told her: “I don’t like to take girls out. I like to have them join in on what I’m doing — going to an event, a concert.”

You chose the strangest individuals to interview for this.  This guy legitimately can't be bothered to alter his own plans at all for a date?  This isn't a generational shift, it's just a lazy dude.

 For evidence, look no further than “Girls,” HBO’s cultural weather vane for urban 20-somethings, where none of the main characters paired off in a manner that might count as courtship even a decade ago. In Sunday’s opener for Season 2, Hannah (Lena Dunham) and Adam (Adam Driver), who last season forged a relationship by texting each other nude photos, are shown lying in bed, debating whether being each other’s “main hang” constitutes actual dating.

"For evidence, let's look at fictional television shows and see what characters on TV are doing."  If you did this a decade ago, you'd assume it was totally normal for people to gather in groups of six and frolic in public fountains.

The actors in the show seem to fare no better in real life, judging by a monologue by Zosia Mamet (who plays Shoshanna, the show’s token virgin, since deflowered) at a benefit last fall at Joe’s Pub in the East Village. Bemoaning an anything-goes dating culture, Ms. Mamet, 24, recalled an encounter with a boyfriend whose idea of a date was lounging in a hotel room while he “Lewis and Clarked” her body, then tried to stick her father, the playwright David Mamet, with the bill, according to a Huffington Post report.

The very strangest part of this whole paragraph is that this person has Huffington Post reporting on her dating experience in a hotel room.

Hookups may be fine for college students, but what about after, when they start to build an adult life? The problem is that “young people today don’t know how to get out of hookup culture,” Ms. Freitas said. In interviews with students, many graduating seniors did not know the first thing about the basic mechanics of a traditional date. “They’re wondering, ‘If you like someone, how would you walk up to them? What would you say?

"Hi.  How are you?" (IMPORTANT: let them answer that before you proceed)  "Not bad!  Want to go out sometime?"  This isn't that complicated.

What words would you use?’ ” Ms. Freitas said. 

This is just sad.  "What words would you use?"  The same damn ones you use the rest of the time.  There aren't special words for asking someone out, you just ask them.  Or, you could try Amy Poehler's approach, where you just go up to someone and act like you're dating them until they forget that you aren't.

That may explain why “dates” among 20-somethings resemble college hookups, only without the dorms. Lindsay, a 25-year-old online marketing manager in Manhattan, recalled a recent non-date that had all the elegance of a keg stand (her last name is not used here to avoid professional embarrassment).

After an evening when she exchanged flirtatious glances with a bouncer at a Williamsburg nightclub, the bouncer invited her and her friends back to his apartment for whiskey and boxed macaroni and cheese. When she agreed, he gamely hoisted her over his shoulders, and, she recalled, “carried me home, my girlfriends and his bros in tow, where we danced around a tiny apartment to some MGMT and Ratatat remixes.”
  1.  When the bouncer from a nightclub asks you and your friends over for whiskey and mac and cheese, that is not a date or a "date" or anything of the sort.  Comparing this to your nostalgic view of dating in the past is pretty ridiculous, because as it happens people in the past also would go home with each other after being at nightclubs, so it's just a different thing that people still do and used to do, too.
  2. Whiskey and mac and cheese sounds awful at first, but for some reason the more I think about it the more I want it.
  3. Did he really carry her home?
Relationship experts point to technology as another factor in the upending of dating culture.

Traditional courtship — picking up the telephone and asking someone on a date — required courage, strategic planning and a considerable investment of ego (by telephone, rejection stings). Not so with texting, e-mail, Twitter or other forms of “asynchronous communication,” as techies call it. In the context of dating, it removes much of the need for charm; it’s more like dropping a line in the water and hoping for a nibble.

Hey, online rejection can hurt too!  One time someone just tweeted this picture to me as a response, and let me tell you, I was devastated.

“I’ve seen men put more effort into finding a movie to watch on Netflix Instant than composing a coherent message to ask a woman out,” said Anna Goldfarb, 34, an author and blogger in Moorestown, N.J. 

I mean, have you tried picking a movie on Netflix recently?  I watched Clueless one goddamn time and now all it recommends are 90s pseudo-comedy chick flicks.

A typical, annoying query is the last-minute: “Is anything fun going on tonight?” More annoying still are the men who simply ping, “Hey” or “ ’sup.”

Personally, I prefer an understated "WAZZZZZAAAAAA!!!"

“What does he think I’m doing?” she said. “I’m going to my friend’s house to drink cheap white wine and watch episodes of ‘Dance Moms’ on demand.”

What makes you think I wouldn't be interested in this?  WAZZZZZAAAAA!!!!!

Dodgy economic prospects facing millennials also help torpedo the old, formal dating rituals. Faced with a lingering recession, a stagnant job market, and mountains of student debt, many young people — particularly victims of the “mancession” — simply cannot afford to invest a fancy dinner or show in someone they may or may not click with.

If you're going to use words like "mancession", can you at least tell me what that is?  I had to spend five whole seconds Googling.

What, you thought I'd just tell you?  You can look it up the same way I did.
Further complicating matters is the changing economic power dynamic between the genders, as reflected by a number of studies in recent years, said Hanna Rosin, author of the recent book “The End of Men.”

A much-publicized study by Reach Advisors, a Boston-based market research group, found that the median income for young, single, childless women is higher than it is for men in many of the country’s biggest cities (though men still dominate the highest-income jobs, according to James Chung, the company’s president).  This may be one reason it is not uncommon to walk into the hottest new West Village bistro on a Saturday night and find five smartly dressed young women dining together — the nearest man the waiter. Income equality, or superiority, for women muddles the old, male-dominated dating structure.

So, earlier you were bemoaning the move away from "traditional" dating, and now you're saying that income equality is muddling the old dating structure which was dominated by men.  I'm not an expert at the transitive property, but I can sorta figure where this is headed.

“Maybe there’s still a sense of a man taking care of a woman, but our ideology is aligning with the reality of our finances,” Ms. Rosin said. As a man, you might “convince yourself that dating is passé, a relic of a paternalistic era, because you can’t afford to take a woman to a restaurant.”

Yep!  Men hate dating now because they can't afford it, and asking a woman to split the bill would just be the worst, right?  After all, it's not about getting to know someone--it's about making sure she knows how much cash you have, and if the answer is not much, what's the point?

Many young men these days have no experience in formal dating and feel the need to be faintly ironic about the process — “to ‘date’ in quotation marks” — because they are “worried that they might offend women by dating in an old-fashioned way,” Ms. Rosin said.

 If you're worried about offending someone, just do the same thing you were going to do, but do it ironically!  This is why hipsters are so universally loved.