Tuesday, April 20, 2010

the mane attraction

See what I did there? Instead of "main", I put "mane". That's because I talk about hair in this post. Don't worry, you'll get it...

I've been thinking a lot lately about gendered humour. I know I posted a while ago re: whether or not women are funny (conclusion: they ARE, but not as easily, or as widely expected to be), but because I'm feeling like the phase of "try comedy" is edging closer and closer, I've been really preoccupied with why funny women are funny, and why some women who try to be funny aren't.

This is the thought that struck me as I tried to lay my sweet sweet head to sleep tonight: Hair.

I mean, as far as having an "I'm a relaxed and awesome person who's gonna make you laugh" kind of look, hair goes a long way. Most men have short hair, so the male comedians with a regular short hair cut are kind of like an aesthetic blank slate as far as humour-potential appearance goes. Clothes don't really play into it either, as most guys stick to the shirt 'n' jeans fashion agenda. Some male comedians do a little "personality swoosh" in the front (ala Conan O'Brien: Joke train comin'! Lllookkout!) or have really curly hair and take advantage of the inherent zaniness that curly hair brings (Weird Al, you so WEIRD!). But then what about the ladies? I'm curious how much a gal's hair might play into how funny she is (publicly, as a performer)...

Like, short hair might just say, "I'm going to emulate a masculine kinda humour now" OR if she is skinny and cute, "I am a silly little sprite who will charm your cutey cute face." Then there's cookie cutter salon styles that kinda just say, "I'm like most girls you probably know and I might also be boring." Medium length bobs or super curls would probably go a long way towards enhancing an on-stage character... (this is kind of a thinking out loud on my computer on the internet thing right now)

Then there's long hair. Is it possible for long hair to be funny? Like would a lady comedian want all the fellas in the audience to be overly preoccupied with the luxuriousness of her hair (or as it translated in their brains: "penis go there")? Can you play a smart hilarious girl if you have ditzy bar-star hair? Hmmm... unless the long hair was super curly (going back to Weird Al)... curls = fun. That'd work.

I think that my conclusion is that developing a character and playing that character well is what must work best for on-stage performing. Hair just tops off the whole package. I wonder what the most universally likeable hairstyle is? Like the hair that most says, "you like me. We're gonna have a great time."

I'm gonna make my own chart with how I think it might work. Points for each different aspect of the lady's hair. More points combined equals more likeability. I'm like a scientist!

Brown - I'm sensible and smart. I'll talk about shoelaces in a very funny way. 1 pt.
Blond - I'm fun and bubbly! I'll chatter about silly things in an adorable manner! If I want to throw you off, I'll be super serious and it will seem funny! 2 pts.
Black - I'm have anger inside of me and I want to bitch about things! LIKE PERIODS! 2 pts.
Red - I'm totally crazy on the inside but I reveal it in clever and hilarious ways! WILD CARD MOTHERF*CKERS. 3 pts.

Super short - You probably think I'm gay! No sexual tension between me and the male audience members makes things more relaxed and therefore more potentially funny probably! 1 pt.
Chin length - I'm cute! Look at my cute neck! I'm really cute! 2 pts.
Shoulder length - Damn in between stage! This does NOTHING for me. 1 pt.
Past shoulders - My comedic versatility is as extensive as my hair! Sassy? Smart? Whatevs! 2 pts.
Waist length - Sex! Sex sex sex sex sex. SEX! 1 pt.
Crazy long - I'm crazy! Don't heckle me or I will shoot blood from my fingers at you. 0 pts.

Straight - I've got my shit under control. You will enjoy yourself because I have your shit under control as well. 2 pts.
Wavy - I either spent too much time on this, or I just rolled outta bed. Hair? Bed? Now I'm sexy. Laugh and, if you're lucky, I will love you. Wait, stop thinking about the bed thing. Stop! Argh, everyone is confused! 1 pt.
Curly - I'm spunky! When I move my head I seem more animated because of all the bouncing, and that makes me funner! 3 pts.
Super curly - I'm a strong, independent lady and I don't even NEED your laughs. Seriously couldn't care less about this shit. 2 pts.

Add up yer points ladies. This here is the true, ultimate scientific breakdown of how strangers grade your funniness potential. I could get into 'dos too (like down vs. ponytail), but I'm getting sleepy. I think I've exorcised this theory well enough that it won't keep me awake any longer. I've also graded the hair so that it weighs slightly in favour of my current hairdo. Wow, what were the odds of THAT?

Monday, April 19, 2010

that was yesterday, sucker

A long time ago I spent some goofy summers with a sweet boy. Then I ditched him like a cold-blooded she-reptilian heart eater. The last summer before things went bad (for HIM! HAHAHAHAA! BOOOO YEAAAAHH!), I wrote a screenplay about our happy times. This song was the feature of the hypothetical soundtrack. Don't know how he didn't see it coming...

Since then, every year when things start getting purty, and especially if I'm near the river (we spent lots of time playin by the river) this is the first song that pops into my head. Maybe it's my conscience still feeling bad? (PHFFT!) It's also just a really pretty song. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

as secure as a vault made of jello

I recently signed up with Skype and have since been thinking a lot about internet security. The primary reason for this is because when I first signed up and was browsing through the program preferences, this was (is) the example for the chat function:

Smith: Does Big Brother exist?
O'Brian: Of course he exists. The Party exists. Big Brother is the embodiment of the Party
Smith: Does he exist in the same way as I exist?
O'Brian: You do not exist
Smith: I think I exist
Smith: I am conscious of my own identity. I was born and I shall die. I have arms and legs
Smith: I occupy a particular point in space. No other solid object can occupy the same point simultaneously
Smith: In that sense, does Big Brother exist?
O'Brian: It is of no importance. He exists
Smith: Will Big Brother ever die?
O'Brian: Of course not. How could he die? Next question

Sound familiar? That's George Orwell's political dystopian fiction 1984, and if you haven't read it, read it. Now. The prominent theme of the story is that of governmental population surveillance. Published in 1949, it was well ahead of its time and continues to be a freakishly close-to-home account of where we might be going, or where we already are.

So why would that excerpt be included as a Skype sample chat? Plus, go ahead and google "Skype privacy issues" and have a look at the heaps of glitches, breaches, and 2+2=5 kinds of issues with their privacy policies. This article is particularly interesting. This one too. Skype privacy is anything but waterproof, and it appears as though their policies are only as good as how much information the government is after. I know it sounds kooky and paranoid to talk about "the government" as though they're actually interested in some schmuck's daily goings-on, but the point here is this: users' conversations can be filtered for "red flag" words and archived for gov't security purposes. Then, if they want to, they can access everything you've got on this sieve of an internet, right down to peeking through your webcam to see what you're wearing. I think the excerpt included in the sample chat is a straight up "listen idiots, we can see you" warning. Cover up your webcams, people. The little green light next to it doesn't actually indicate whether it's on or not. It indicates whether or not you've got your mac-installed "photo booth" app running.

And if it seems like a stretch that the gov't would want anything to do with your online personal junk, how about scammers? Voyeur hackers? Bad people who are good with computers? If a high school can spy on its students at home, what makes you think someone else can't?

Way back, after the twin tower stuff went down, I noticed my hotmail emails acting funny. I'd send emails out and the recipient would reply confused because my emails had holes throughout the text. This went on for about a month – I'd send an email, and in the replies I'd see that specific words were being omitted from the text. Finally I sent a list of the words that I figured were suspect, they included "hate", "terror", "terrorist", "bomb", "attack", most swearwords, and "gay". Yep, gay. Interestingly enough, "ass" wasn't filtered, so I started using "ass" in place of all the words that were being cut out. It made for a great read. Since then, those emails are gone from my account. Can't find 'em. Here's my conclusion: the person I was emailing most at the time had a yahoo account, which is maybe why his messages weren't filtered. After the attacks and G.W. Bush went all berserko with takin away citizens' privacy rights and stuff, Hotmail must've been temporarily (or maybe just shoddily) used as a red flag filter for potential "threats". Maybe it still is, but they've since figured out the word-dissappearing thing. As it is, I've switched to gmail, which I have no idea about privacy-wise. My hotmail account was seriously flimsy as far as security goes. I just recently noticed that, if I don't sign out, and then I browse on the internet, the spam that is sent to my hotmail account is directly related to my browsing. I don't click on ads or offers, either. PLUS, for some reason it won't let me actually close my hotmail account. It tells me there's some issue with my cookie settings and that I have to call hotmail or something. Wha? Just close my stupid account, jerkos!

Anyway, my point being: the internet isn't secure. Don't be fooled into thinking that it is. We're not anonymous avatars floating around in an anything goes digicloud. It's an owned space that we're inhabiting. It's Big Brother's best idea yet.


Wednesday, April 7, 2010


I've been meaning to write this down for a long time. It's my own version of Whodini's song "Friends". I call it, "Sweaters":

How many of us have them?
Ones we can depend on
How many of us have them?
Before we go any further, lets be

Is a word we use everyday
Most the time we use it in the wrong way
Now you can look the word up, again and again
But the dictionary doesnt know the meaning of sweaters

And if you ask me, you know, I couldnt be much help
Because a sweater is something you judge for yourself
Some are ok, and they treat you real cool
But some mistake snugness for bein a fool

We like to wear some, because they're funny
Others come around when you need some money
Some you grew up with, around the way
And you're still real close to this very day

Homesweaters through the Summer, Winter, Spring and Fall
And then there's some we wish we never had at all
And this list goes on, again and again
But these are the sweaters that we call sweaters

How many of us have them?
Ones we can depend on
How many of us have them?
Before we go any further, let's be

You say you and your sweater were so tight
You took it out with you and your guy one night
It even had a set of keys to your home
And you shared mostly everything you owned

But as it shook your hand, it stole your man
And it was done so swift, it had to be a plan
Couldn't trust it with cheese, let alone your keys
With sweaters like that you dont need enemies

You wonder how long it was all going on
And your still not sure if your sweater is gone
You say, well if it took him he was never mine
But deep inside you know thats just another lie

And now you're kinda cold to the people you meet
Cause of something that was done to you by some creepy sweater
But nevertheless, I'll say it again
That these are the people that we call sweaters

How many of us have them?
Before we go any further, lets be

So there you go. Sweaters ain't easy, and sometimes they don't make a lot of sense. But we love them and need them to keep us warm sometimes.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

the internet is ruining everything

During a recent conversation about whether the internet ought to be a basic human right, I was struck by a thought: we're devolving. Oh my god, we're totally devolving and it's the internet's fault.

The conversation went something like this:
Argument A - the internet is a slough of blithering non-facts and entertainment, another platform for money-making and population surveillance, and why the hell should those things be accessible to every human on the planet?
Argument B - because of our global economy and online transcontinental communities, the internet is imperative for any human being to be a part of said economy and communities. Also, it's educational value should be available to everyone.

My points were nestled in argument A. I see the internet as 98% spazzertainment, marketing, wasted time, and antisocial networking (probably 75% of that is porn). The remaining 2% are useful things like online banking, online college courses, and wikipedia (and it's questionable educational value). The first two of those things still involve cash dollars – it's not like giving someone internet access will mean that a degree is that much more available. Most neato online resources still cost a bit o' cash, as well as a postal address for sending real life materials.

Anyway, the value of the internet can be debated until everyone is avatarded in the face and we're all annoyed with each other for stupid reasons. Here's the clincher though: let's saaaaayy... 50 years down the road oil and fossil fuels become too scarce and expensive for personal use. Aannnnd because most governments will deny this until we're all screwed, things like, ohhhh...  electricity might be hard for people to come by. Not just for third worldies, either. For all of us. SO, after spending 50 years transferring all of our knowledge onto our infinitely precious world wide web, suddenly none of our power outlets are any good. Plugging in will be spotty at best, and our bank accounts, social lives, collective histories, memories, educational whatevers... all unavailable. Without computers to think, store, spell-check, and communicate with, we'd be left in a giant chasm of non thinking and complete empty headedness.

Take the recent dumbing down of Scrabble, for example. Proper nouns are now allowed because the general populace probably doesn't know the difference between a proper noun and a regular noun. Everyone's grammar stinks. Nobody knows how to spell. Where computers used to fill in for our mathematical weaknesses, they are now compensating our inabilities to use words. Our over-enthusiasm for a posthuman culture is not turning us into super cool cyborgs or lawnmowermen, it's turning us into fat, stupid husks that no longer bother to learn or remember anything because it's all a finger tap away. Soon enough, we won't even have to tap our fingers. Our little brain chips will keep us online all the time and the internet will suck our brains dry like a hoover. We'll think that we're an incredibly advanced civilization, until the power flicks off and we're sitting in our dark, ugly cubicles – fat, useless bodies and all hints of natural instincts and survival impulses evaporated. From single-celled blobs to multi-celled blobs, back from whence we came.

I'm pretty sure that our achilles heel is the internet. The more we convince ourselves that we need it to live, the more we will need it to live. It isn't a basic human right, it's a general human want.

When my powerbook recently died, I went a week without having immediate access to the internet. We still had a computer hooked up to our TV, but it was cumbersome to use for email and stuff, so I wasn't online much. As the days passed I realized with growing shame that, without it, I was becoming a more attentive and pleasant mother. I had more patience and my kids seemed far less whiney. I was also talking to more people on the phone, reading more books, and having less headaches. I felt happier and was enjoying "real life". As far as work went though, I was falling way behind. I got the new laptop and am now back at it, juggling about five different commitments at once, "needing" to check every email and messaging account several times a day. When I got the new computer, I was excited but also kind of regretful. I think I'd be better off without it, but with no car and tons of extracurricular responsibilities, how else do I keep on top of everything?

To the limited extent that we are already "plugged in" to our internettings, what would happen if we were unplugged right now? It'd be like withdrawal from an addiction. It'd be shitty, but we'd eventually get over it and remember that most of us were alive in the 90s before we needed it. 50 years from now, will we actually be able to live without it? Who will remember how to? Doesn't that vulnerability scare the living piss out of anyone else??