Archive | April, 2012

Dear White House Correspondents’ Dinner

30 Apr

God, this seems like a hard gig, doesn’t it? You’ve got half an hour, the president’s writers are at least as good as yours, some of your jokes are so wonky they have to be explained to the audience made up of wonks, you’ve got to make fun of celebrities and politicians, but the fact of the matter is, the night is for the journalists….or it was supposed to be, originally.

I started wondering if there’s ever been a female host at the WHCD. There’ve been a couple: in 1993, Elayne Boosler; in 1999 Arethra Franklin provided the entertainment (one assumes she didn’t do stand-up); in 2009, Wanda Sykes. In 2005 “First Lady Laura Bush made some jokes” (from the Wikipedia article on the WHCA). 

Fun fact: the only repeat performer (as far as the chart shows) is Al Franken, in 1994 and 1996 (Conan O’Brien being the gingermeat in that particular Frankenwich).

Interestingly, this “tradition” of a comedy host is fairly new. In 1945, the first year of the dinner, they had “performers” which included Frank Sinatra. The chart then skips to 1969– was the dinner not held?– when it notes that “President Nixon personally requested the Disneyland Golden Horseshoe Revue.” (There’s got to be some good jokes in that.) It’s only in 1991 that recognizable “comedy hosts” start performing as such, and even since then, sometimes the dinner has relied on spoof videos or split the duties between more than one entertainer.

So it’s only very, very recently that there’s been a hint of rivalry between the “two” comedic performances: the president’s, whoever he (or, I hope, someday she) may be, and the host’s. And in fact, it’s only since Obama took office that this “rivalry” has gained any footing in the sense of it being a true competition. For while the quality of the jokes may be the same (as I mentioned, both obviously hire writers, and there’s no requirement that a certain number of the jokes be the speaker’s own), comedy is all in the timing…and Obama is our only President with a certain instinctual one-two count. 

Now, President Clinton has a sly-dog sense about him, and one can imagine that Presidents like Bush and even Teddy Roosevelt were fond of pranks, but Obama is somewhat known for being able to make (and take) a joke.

One likes to imagine he’s enjoying the night with that big ear-to-ear grin of his. One likes to think of Obama as being the funniest, smartest guy in the room, even when put up against paid, professional comedians who do this every night of their lives. One likes to forget that he’s President and see him as the guy on the basketball court, the best roaster at the company or family annual dinner. And that’s ok. But it isn’t true.

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Dear 50 Shades of Grey

27 Apr

Have you guys heard of this book 50 Shades of Grey? It’s a novel– a softcore BDSM novel. Apparently it’s remarkable because it was the #1 bestselling e-book on the NYT list and #3 on Amazon’s best-seller list in March.

This means that someone actually noticed that women buy and read a) romance novels and b) smut. Maybe it means that someone noticed that women have sex? I doubt it, though. That seems farfetched.

For whatever reason, this particular one has caught on and women aren’t “ashamed” to pass it on to their friends. As the Jezebel article says, “Another anonymous woman said that her friends were obsessed with the erotic novel, which was the first of its kind that they felt comfortable discussing openly. ‘Women just feel like it’s O.K. to read it,’ she said. ‘It’s taboo for women to admit that they watch pornography, but for some reason it’s O.K. to admit that they’re reading this book.’

I keep picturing moms in the grocery aisle opening their raincoats or reaching a hand between their torso and their front-carrying baby backpacks to pass the e-code to the book off. They slide by each other saying, “Oreo’s? Oh, no, honey, those aren’t good for you.” 

Look, this is what we’ve known since the kindle arrived: that electronic reading would make smut more widespread– or at least, more often read in public. 

But still, I’m unclear on why women who weren’t “passing” their smutty books around before this one suddenly feel compelled to share Shades of Grey. Do they feel like it’s “ok” for some reason in this case? Do they feel like it’s so good it would be selfish to keep it to themselves? Shades of Grey, despite what these women may think, is not the first of its kind.

Yes, women don’t often discuss their favored arousal media. It’s still pretty taboo. Is it because unlike porn, which we all assume men are watching, we don’t assume our BFF has a stash of smut? So trading favorites requires first a confession (and an unpredictable reaction) before getting down to brass tacks? But how often do men sit in the boardroom or watch their kids on the soccer field being like, “You catch Jessica Rubber’s latest stretch act in Cumby?”

WAIT! Before you leave due to the awfulness of my made-up porn pun:

1. Did I mention IT DOESN’T SOUND SEXY? Or like a healthy expression of sexuality?

The smut in this novel– which is supposed to be an exploration of BDSM, remember– doesn’t even sound that risque. One of the women who writes at Forever Young Adult (who, yes, spends her time reading and reviewing young adult literature, so it should’ve been pretty easy to push her literary sex boundaries, since one can imagine she mostly reads awkward make-out scenes) says, “Y’all. Y’ALL. Look, I knew this book was not going to be good, OBVIOUSLY, but I thought AT LEAST the sex scenes would be good! Or at least so shocking that I was a little bit prudishly appalled by them. BUT NO…Ugh, I actually turned to my boyfriend this weekend (why was I reading this while with my boyfriend? I don’t know) and told him that the sex in this book was turning me off sex entirely. (His response?  ‘Let’s find you something else to read.’)”

And obviously all of the sex takes place in a monogamous, heterosexual, committed relationship that is based on love. That is the only way women like their sex. 

Did I mention that she’s a virgin when they meet? She hesitates to commit to his demands because, while she loves him, she doesn’t know if this is what she wants/likes. He makes her agree before she ever has sex for the first time. Healthy! 

2. Did I mention that IT’S FAN FICTION?

Christian and Anastasia are based on….drumroll….

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Dear Nice Guy Who’s a Better Person Than I Am But I Don’t Want to Date

25 Apr

This is one of those posts where you’re either going to hate me or like me more after I tell you what a terrible human being I am. (Here is where you say, Is there any other kind?)

So I went on a date a couple of weeks ago. Nice guy. Wore a button-down shirt to our coffee date. Let me pick the time and place (oh come on, did you expect me to wait for him to do it?). Brown curly hair, brown eyes. Graduate student in history (my undergrad major). According to his email, which was basically an online dating profile: “Hiking, playing frisbee golf, and drinking lots of Twinings black tea are the hobbies I’m most involved with at the moment.” 

Obviously, halfway through the date we started talking about Twilight. He asked me my favorite poet, and I said Elizabeth Bishop. This was the only question he asked me all night. The rest of time he spent answering my questions with interview-ready responses. When I asked why he went back to graduate school, he gave me his “list of qualifications” off his resume, did not ask why I was in graduate school or anything about what I was studying, and then he said, “I feel like I’m at an interview!”

To my credit, I didn’t mock him. Then.

Therefore I was desperate to string my one question out as long as possible, so I said, “Of course, a little farther down the line of favorite things to read…you know, Bishop at the top, but about ten down you find Twilight.”

He hung in there. “Of course,” he said, “that makes so much sense.” Or something like that. The fact that I can’t recall the conversation perfectly (one of my greatest skills in life) tells you pretty much all you need to know about how things were going at this point.

“No, really,” I said.

“Totally,” he said. I nodded. “Oh…” he said. “Really.”

I love talking to people about how much I don’t hate Twilight. You can find just a few of the reasons here. I think Stephenie Meyer writes a nice, clean sentence that doesn’t get in the way of me chanting make out make out make out. And no, I don’t care if it’s with Edward or Jacob. I just think people should make out more. I’ll save the rest of my reasons for when we talk face-to-face. I find it’s a good litmus test, and I don’t want to ruin it before I have the chance to see if you turn red or blue. So I told him that yes, I have in fact read all 4 books, but woefully have not yet made time to catch up on the movies. 

He said— I kid you not— “Well, I guess all this really does is reflect badly on me, that I’m judging something before I even give it a chance.” He said this sincerely. About TwilightAs if the hype hasn’t give him a pretty good idea of whether it’s his cup of Twinings black tea.

I should’ve known: in the email he sent me asking for the date, he wrote, “If I had one wish I would ask that the everyone on the globe have access to quality education considering many of the world’s problems are due to ignorance.”

I really, really hope he gets that Mr. America sash. That’s such a good answer. 

xxo,

MM

Dear…Wait. Before we go any further. Are you following me on Twitter?

24 Apr

Because you should. It’s @dearmrpostman. Quit being a deadbeat, pay your child support, and follow me already.

I do what all the celebrities do and I talk about drugs and bodily functions.

See? I’m just like Alec Sulkin.

Seriously, if you need more DMP in your life, get in the Twillage and let’s be neighbors. I’m maaaaaybe half-fluent in twitterspeak so it’s sort of like watching the drunk baby:

love,

MM

Dear Facebook Timeline

23 Apr

We all hate it. We all hate change every time it happens on FB, yes, and then like lemmings we throw ourselves off the cliff and continue to overshare online. Really, FB’s tagline is “TMI.”

So why? Why do we hate timeline? Why do some of us (guilty) hate it so much that we continue to hold out, hoping against hope that Zuckerberg will just never notice us lurking in the corners?

We carefully avoid that stupid little button that says “Get Timeline Now” like a hyperactive kindergarten teacher shilling naptime. You know it’s not really for your own good. Even as kid you were all, “Yeah, and what’re you going to do while I sleep?” Now that we have friends who are teachers we know: check Facebook. (How’s that for a transition?)

1. It’s stupid hard to find things on people’s profiles, even stuff you saw just a minute ago and you know definitely is there.

It’s even harder on Timeline than it used to be. Speaking of, why doesn’t FB have a better topical search button yet? It’s called “google search” and my understanding is that it’s basically HPV: already there, just waiting to be found.

2. You have to be a graphic designer to use it and what if I’m not, Facebook, GTFO.

Seriously. Timeline requires some sort of aesthetic/graphic aptitude: your cover photo and profile picture have to complement each other. Have you seen someone’s profile where they don’t? It’s ugly as sin. AND WHAT IF I DON’T HAVE GRAPHIC APTITUDE, FACEBOOK. YOUR MOM HAS IT.

I already have to make graphic design decisions concerning this blog and god, shoot me now. you’ll notice it hasn’t changed in two years, and didn’t change in the 2 years before that. And every time I do post a photo I realize– oh wait this has to look not-barfy against that yellow banner. Do any of you want to come draw sketches for me?

3. Have you even looked in the mirror lately, Facebook? That isn’t body dysmorphia disorder. You’re weird now.

Timeline does not look good with FB’s surrounding layout– the way that little bar at the top scrolls down with it? The settings buttons at the top which keeps the cover photo from truly being a banner, which is how we’re accustomed to seeing it work on blogs? It’s like a truly terrible tumblr theme.

It only took me seventeen tries to get a decent cover photo / profile pic combo! You?

The huge gaps in the profiles of people who almost never use FB look awful– thus forcing you into an “all or nothing” sort of use. That is, if you want your own wall to look palatable. You know how you know it’s a bad design, though? Even if people do post photos all the time, if the pictures aren’t through the same filter, or taken with similar lighting, they look strange lined up next to and against each other. Our eyes can’t reconcile them. There’s a reason movies don’t generally film every other shot with different tints to them. Film editors are paid billions of dollars to fix such discrepancies.

All those “buttons” under the cover photo (“friends, maps, etc.”)? First of all, you have to use those functions for it to be visually appealing, which most of us don’t. See that blue box with “158” and the thumbs up in the picture above? It looks dumb. It needs an image. Second of all, the colors of them also should be in the same color family. (Right? “Color family” is a thing? See above lack of visual design ability.) But you have no control over what those buttons display.

4. What it leads to: the apocalypse and paid Facebook wall designers.

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