International Morning Show Jealousy

Some people have very strong opinions about religion.  Or politics.  Or food.

I have strong opinions about morning news shows.  Mock if you will, but I more or less hate all humanity before I’ve had my 20 ounces of coffee or it’s past 10:00am.  I have patience for almost nothing, my temper is short.  In this state, it’s playing with fire to subject me to crappy morning news programming.

Now, obviously, here in the states you have the potential for morning news show offensiveness at both a local and a national level. While I have plenty to say about local morning news*, my issues with the national morning news programs have been going on for longer.  Oh, sure I have fond early-childhood memories of Good Morning America way back in the Joan Lunden days, and I still have a soft spot for the old CBS This Morning jazzy version of “Oh, What A Beautiful Morning.”  But it all went pear-shaped when GMA took a nose dive, CBS destroyed their morning show and all that was left standing was NBC’s Today.  Maybe could have made it through with NBC’s offering, except that at the ripe age of 15, I came to loathe Matt Lauer with the fire of 1000 suns.  That sentiment continues, in force, to this day, no matter how much coffee I’ve had.

So, I’ve been adrift.  I’ve tried going back to the other networks–GMA has shown some improvement, but they aren’t there yet–everything is too forced and carved out of cream-cheese.  I even tried cable (Robin Mead on Headline News with her valley-girl inflection is only a hair more tolerable than Matt Lauer being arrogant). I kept looking for the morning news program that did what I needed it to do:  give me enough information about world events to avoid being a total nitwit in the conversations before the morning stand-up meeting, and not give me another reason to hate the world before I get to my desk.

And finally, at long last, in December 2010 I found the show.  It didn’t just meet those basic criteria, it went above and beyond.  It is the morning show of my dreams.  It not only didn’t offend, it actively highlighted everything that I hadn’t even realized was wrong with every other morning news program I’ve ever seen.  This show brought the thing that matters most:  The Funny.

Unfortunately for me, it’s Australian. Read the rest of this entry »

Coffee with a Fellow Alum

Would we drink coffee with Jon Stewart?

Kristy: I’m really kind of shocked this one hasn’t come up before. I actually did a search before writing this, because although I couldn’t remember doing one, it seemed we must have. But if we have, I can’t find it.

The short answer is: Hell yes. How could I not? He’s that William and Mary alumni that gave all the rest of us hope that we might actually be cool some day. And not cool in the frat boy, business major kind of way, because those of us who weren’t that already had no desire to be. Cool in that smart, funny, people listen to me and love me kind of way. There are a lot of things I love about Mr. Stewart. He brings the funny and knows how to use humor to call attention to things that need it and to elevate the conversation. I love that he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. These things would be enough to make me buy him a cup of coffee. But I’d also sit down with him for a cup because there are things I’d love to ask him: What’s the truth behind his time at W&M? He’s alluded several times to not being happy during that time, was it the general pressure cooker that is W&M or was there something else? None of my business, but that doesn’t matter at the Spacial Anomaly Coffee Bar and Refueling station. I’d love random gossip about what the people he’s worked with over the years are really like. I’d love to know his actual opinions on current events. And just in case he ever misses the ‘Burg, I’d bring him ginger cakes and maybe even a Cheese Shop sandwich.

Cammy:  Oh, hell yeah!  As Kristy said, how could I not?  We owe him coffee for giving us hope.  And it would be interesting to find out how he feels about being the bench mark for W&M students to aspire to (move over, TJ).  I’d like to get his stories of the most surprisingly funny interview-ees.  He’s nerd enough that he’s interviewed a lot more than just entertainment personalities, so which of those writers, politicians, historians, etc. really caught him off-guard with their ability to banter back?   I also need to apologize for hating his guts for the first 6 months he was doing The Daily Show (I was a fan back in the Craig Kilborn days and was pissed when Kilborn left.  I took it out on the new guy.  Until I realized the new guy was way funnier).

Presidential Coffee

I couldn’t think of anyone to have coffee with off the top of my head today, so went with my standard brainstorming strategy of checking Wikipedia’s “born on this day” list and learned today was the birthday of this historic Josiah Bartlett, signer of the US Declaration of Independence.  I’ll be honest, I know nothing about him except what I’ve already written.  But that did make me think of another Josiah Bartlett that would be perfect for this feature.

Would we drink coffee with President Josiah Bartlett from The West Wing?

Kristy:  Yes.  And it doesn’t even have anything to do with his political views (though he and I are fairly well aligned in that department).  I want to have coffee with him because he’s a big ol’ nerd.  Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, speaks five languages, and makes frequent historical and literary references?  Yes, please!  You just know the man could keep up with just about any conversation topic you threw at him.  Also he’s a storyteller, which means that coffee with him is bound to include fantastic tales of a fictional White House, meetings with world leaders, and the Bartlett family.  Finally, but possibly most importantly, the man knows how to bring the funny.  And you know I love the funny.

Cammy:  Sure why not?  First off, we haven’t had coffee with anyone fictional in a while, so that’s a nice change.  Second, I don’t think I’ll have to say much.  Pretty sure he can get going on a lecture and run with it.  While I don’t align with him politically, neither did Ainsley Hayes and she seemed okay with him.  He’s more than just a story teller, the man is a walkin’ book of fun facts.  Like Wikipedia on legs–and who doesn’t love Wikipedia?!?!?  Sure, I may feel stupid for the majority of the get together, but I’ll probably walk away with some serious fodder for my next dinner party.  And, as Kristy said, with this guy, you know at least some of it will be funny.

Presentation Style

I promise, barring a conference emergency, this is my last conference related post for a while.  But I thought it might be of interest to some of our readers to hear my strategies for conference presentations.  Or more to the point, how vapid and superficial I can be.

Now professional conferences are a chance for working scholars to share and get feedback on their research.  It’s how you find out what’s going on in the cutting edge of your field.  It’s also a chance to hear leaders in your field, which can be incredibly inspiring (and provide connections for future jobs).

But I’m not leader in my field.  My research isn’t particularly cutting edge.  And a lot of the times it’s on a somewhat obscure subject.  I could beat myself up over all this stuff, but the truth is, there’s a limit to how much control over all that I have.  So my strategy is twofold:  I try to insert humor whenever possible and I make sure I look cute (as cute as I can… I’m not saying I’m all that).

The second part was advice from one of my advisers (who I must say, practices what she preaches).  The first part is… well you know I like the funny.  I think “If you can’t be interesting, be funny” are words to live by.  And I try to.  I discovered today that my friend J follows a similar strategy.  When I commented on what a bad strategy it might be, he said, “Look the bottom line is, at a certain point during conferences where people lose their ability to process theoretical material.  But they can always tell whether your blazer fits and your shoes are snazzy.”  (Honestly, I think there are a lot of people out there who don’t notice what anyone’s wearing, but that’s another matter).

Truth be told, I don’t know if any of this works on my audience.  But I know that it works on me.  I’m much more comfortable being funny than being deep.  And wearing a cute pair of tights, snazzy heels and a nice pencil skirt really does make me stand a little taller. Literally and figuratively.  It makes me more comfortable up there, which probably makes me more articulate.  And maybe, just maybe makes me more fun to listen to.

Or maybe not.  This year an older gentleman began snoring loudly during my paper.  But at least that brought the funny.

Coffee with Weird Al

Would we drink coffee with Weird Al?

Cammy:  I found myself bopping at my desk today to “White and Nerdy.”  For some reason, it’s just been a while since I’ve listened to Weird Al, and I was struck again by how entertaining and clever his stuff is.  This, combined with the fact that Kristy and I had once decided back in college that Weird Al is one of those celebrities that would be cool enough to hang out with to mock TV and play table-top games*, yes, we are go for coffee.  Smart, funny people like him, who are observant enough and creative enough to remix and mold pop songs into coherent comedy pieces are exactly the kind of people you want to hang out with because they are likely to come up with something new and hilarious while sitting there with a hot beverage.   Y’don’t quiz people like this on their inspiration, you just watch it unfold and hope you can contribute enough to the conversation to maintain the roll of the funny.

Kristy:  Abso-fraggin-lutely.  This is an appropriate choice for the evening, because I was polka-ing earlier this evening.  The man is kind of a wonder if you think about it; I don’t think a lot of people take him very seriously, but at then end of the day, the man is a talented musician, a witty lyricist, and he has staying power most pop stars would kill for.  And did I mention he brings the funny?  I also appreciate that he brings the funny without ever being mean.  He just seems like someone who would be fun to hang out with.  Someone it would be fun to watch do the most basic things.  Here’s hoping coffee lasts a long time.

*Note that in the MTVMPB world, this kind of hanging out with games and TV requires a level of coolness above and beyond just coffee.

Musikalischer Mittwoch: With Office Zombies!

As overdone as the zombie thing is these days, it’s still totally acceptable in the form of geeky music.  Especially when it’s a song dealing with a zombie take over in the office.  Because, well, a zombie take over in my office would be a total delight.

“Re: Your  Brains” is a staple in the diet of Jonathan Coulton fans–so I’m sure it’s nothing new to many of you.  It has all the key features of Coulton’s well-known songs: great music with a catchy tune and hysterical/geeky/just damn-good lyrics and high-quality delivery.

This particular ditty is a musical e-mail from an un-dead co-worker who really just wants to eat your brains.  Bob from the office down the hall is totally polite in his message, and–accompanied by great guitar work and a rock-anthemic chorus you can belt out with co-workers–he lays out the memo and the ultimatum  “All we want to do is eat your brains.  We’re not unreasonable/ No one’s gonna eat your eyes.”

What’s not to love right there?  But, it goes further….it’s got all the necessary elements of a typical corporate office e-mail–all the phrases, the cliches, the passive-aggressive comments.  That’s actually more horrifying than the idea of  having your brains eaten.

Bonus fun for this song:  you can listen to the whole thing (and lot more) online for free at Coulton’s website (downloads are a buck), and it’s available under a Creative Commons license (along with all the other songs written by Coulton).


Sassy Gay Time Vampire

I strongly suspect that many of our readers are already familiar with this week’s time vampire.  It’s even been linked in our comments once.  But I discovered a few days ago to my great horror that friend of the blog Mary had not been introduced.  I felt like I had failed as a friend.  So lest we fail any of our other readers here’s a delightful little Time Vampire:

The Sassy Gay Friend

In a nutshell it’s a series of videos focusing on moments in literature and history when characters make really bad decisions and hypothesizing how things might have ended different if said character had a sassy gay friend.  (spoiler:  Sassy Gay Friend always makes things better).  Yes, recent videos are sponsored by Mio (I haven’t tried Mio, but it contains sucralose and is therefore evil), but they are still amusing.  I love them because not only do they bring the funny, they bring the smart funny.  They poke fun at absurd moments in literature which people never talk about (SGF to Juliet:  You took a rufee from a priest!).  Also they are full of allusions to other literary works (I don’t want to remember that night I spent with Bob Marley).  They’re the kind of videos that simultaneously amuse you and make you feel smart because you actually did your English homework.

The nice thing about this Time Vampire is that it’s not going to suck away too much of your time.  There aren’t that many videos and (sadly) new ones aren’t released that often and none of them are more than a few minutes long.  But warning:  watching one will probably result in you needing to watch them all.  And even once you’ve watched them all they may become a minor addiction.  Not so much an addiction as that thing you turn to when you get down.  “Man, I’m sad.  I’m going to have to watch some Sassy Gay Friend.”

A final warning to our readers:  There are a lot of imitators out there.  And to some extent, who can blame them?  I mean, just yesterday Mary and I were speculating on how Eowyn might have benefited from the help of a Sassy Gay Friend.  (Though just now we have decided that Boromir would have benefitted from one even more)  The difference between us and them is we respect the SGF enough not to make a poorly done and not all that funny Sassy Gay Friend:  Lord of the Rings on our own.  So we strongly recommend that you not watch any Sassy Gay Friends that do not work for Second City.

What, what, what are you doing?

Damn You Time Vampire!

Tonight’s Time Vampire comes via a colleague of mine who linked it on Facebook (yes, I know Cammy, it’s a scary place and I shouldn’t go there).  I love this time vampire because it’s updated frequently and consistently brings the funny.

I hate this Time Vampire because it’s frequently updated and consistently brings the funny.  Which means that every time I’m desiring a little procrastination, it provides.  I’ve become quite the junkie.

This vamp is called Damn You Auto Correct! Basically it consists of funny autocorrects from text messages on iPhones.  I’ll confess that having never used an iPhone myself, I don’t quite get it.  My desperately in need of updating cell phone doesn’t have autocorrect.  Any mistakes in my text messages are my own.  Apparently the iPhone feature is malicious?  I don’t know.  I don’t get how it makes some of the corrections it does, but I hope they never fix it.  Because in its present form it’s providing me with lots of funny.  However, my productivity will go way up if they do manage to create a more efficient feature.

Dear Time Vampire Above Me

Tonight’s Time Vampire isn’t exactly a ravenous one.  It’s just a little guy, so it can’t eat up too much of your time.  But we all know how little bits of time slurpage can add up.

Also, you all need to know about this one because it brings the funny.

I was introduced to Dear Girls Above Me by a colleague.  Can’t remember why she brought it up, but she did and then I had to google it.  Then I had to check it every day.  Then I had to read the archive. Then I remembered that there were important things I was supposed to be doing.  Then I kept reading through the archive instead of doing them.

The premise (and you all should know by now that I don’t care whether it’s true as long as it’s funny.  But I would guess this is true) is that the author, Charlie McDowell (son of actors Malcolm McDowell and Mary Steenburgen I’ve recently discovered) (more importantly cousin of Dr. Bashir), posts crazy things he hears from the girls who live above him.  Then he adds short commentary.  Then I snicker.  Or stare in horror (seriously, these girls are not just annoying, they’re annoying and weird.  In a bad way).

The bite on this vamp is small since most of the posts are twitter sized and it’s not always updated daily (what?  Does Charlie have better things to do than creep on his neighbors?  Doesn’t he care about us?).  And it hasn’t been around all that long so the archive will only suck away but so much of your time.  So I recommend you check it out.

Also according to IMDB Charlie and I have the same birthday.  For whatever that’s worth.

Anyway, Dear Girls Above Me has been added to my increasingly long list of sites to check when I don’t want to read about ethnography or study Russian vocab.  When I don’t know a thing about Russian by the end of the semester we’ll blame it on Charlie’s neighbors.

Bad Fauxmance?

Tonight’s post is a quick one.  Just a guilty pleasure.  Something on the internet that amuses me.  And I’m easily amused.

In particular, I’m amused by Kevin Smith’s ongoing twitter war/fauxmance with Megan Phelps.

If somehow you’re fortunate enough to not know who Megan Phelps-Roper is, she’s the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, founder of the Westboro Baptist Church. Yes, the one’s whose url is hate speech and who protest soldier’s funerals.  I guess Megan’s the younger, hipper contingent because she spreads the WBC’s message of hate via twitter and Lady Gaga parodies.  Yeah.  I want to feel sorry for her, knowing she’s only the product of her environment and she’s been indoctrinated into what she is but… she makes it really damn hard.

I imagine given the opportunity, most of us have more than a few choice things we’d like to say to Megan and the WBC.  But let’s face it, telling them how despicable they are only fuels their fire.  I think Kevin Smith has hit on a better tactic.

He flirts with her.  Every time she tweets some kind of criticism of him or announces the WBC will be picketing one his events, he acts like she’s hitting on him.  He responds by gently chiding her with the fact that he’s married.  Then he offers to see if he can talk his wife into a three way.  Then he offers to share his pot with her.  It’s basically a fifth grade technique (albeit with slightly more adult content), but I like it anyway.  I don’t think any of its going to change her mind or make a difference.  Megan seems pretty set in her ways, though she is young, so there might be hope.  And honestly, I think she likes the attention.  But whatever.

What I care about is it makes me snicker.  And it’s the end of the semester, and I need all the laughs I can get.

So thank you Mr. Smith—you’ve brought the funny yet again.