Archive for January, 2012
I was talking to my roommate’s boyfriend a few weeks ago and he mentioned that he had just seen a band from Jersey. Turns out, it was Thursday. I had seen them for the first time last summer, touring with Taking Back Sunday, and it was an awesome show, and my roommate’s boyfriend agreed. “It’s a shame that was their second to last show.”
Turns out, it’s true! The band is on what they’re calling an “indefinite hiatus,” which might not mean they’re broken up, but we might as well lead our lives that way. It really is a shame. People got all wee-weed up recently when At the Drive-In reunited, but as far as “post hardcore” bands go, I was always a Thursday man. So much so, their second album War All the Time made it to my Favorite Albums of the Decade list.
Jersey will rock just a bit less for their passing, but Thursday left us with some awesome tunes, including this one about their home state, off their last album. Listen to a little “Turnpike Divides.”
Winter is an unforgiving season, and New England is an unforgiving region. The only thing lower than temperature outside is our own spirits. The shortness of the days is a constant reminder of how precious little time we have here on this earth, and the nearly enveloping darkness that consumes the majority of the hours calls to mind the inevitable embrace of oblivion. A profound existential dread is not only understandable, but required to maintain even the most cursory semblance of sanity.
Ordinarily, to say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel would be the nonsensical ravings of either a dewy-eyed naif, or a lunatic mind. And yet here we are, in the depths of the most frigid of winters, somehow finding the strength to struggle on. From whence does this light shine? What is the source of our hope, however ethereal? It has emerged tonight. Gossip Girl is back.
:00 Is this for real? They had Blair miscarry over the winter break? That seems like a kind of cheap way to weasel out of Blair having a kid.
:04 Or maybe this is all a dream or a hallucination or something?
:05 The “Louis has a new reason to mistrust Blair” plot device is getting as tired as the “everyone jumps through flaming hoops to find a reason to trust Charlie” plot device.
:07 I know this will make me sound like a monster, but I’m feeling a bit of an Emma Stone backlash. What’s the big deal with her?
:12 “Jenny sends her love from London.” Ha! Hopefully that’s the last we hear from her for another season. Also, I completely forgot that Eric van der Woodsen hasn’t been on the show because he’s been tearing it up as Declan Porter on Revenge.
:14 Is that the real Vera Wang? Is there such a person? Am I supposed to know this?
:16 This hat Blair is wearing looks like an embroidered cookie.
We’re meant to believe that this secret Blair and Dan are keeping is that they’re doing it, but that’s clearly not the case. So what is it? Shmashmortion?
:22 Readers outside of the New England region might not know what I’m talking about, but everyone else, have you seen this Jordan’s commercial? Where the Jordan’s dude vacuums the old mattress, and all that dust and junk gets sucked up? Is it true that a mattress almost doubles in weight after eight years?
:24 Rule #1 of Gossip Girl: things are always exactly as they seem. Way to go, Chuck and Louis.
:28 One thing that always takes me out of a narrative is when two characters have a secret, but they never manage to explicitly say what that secret is in the course of their interactions. These are cheap, dirty tricks, GG writers.
:32 Hey look, it’s a party in the second half of the episode that brings all of the characters together.
:33 What a guy Louis is. How many times can two people endeavor to publicly humiliate one another before they realize that perhaps their union is less than sound.
:37 Dan and Blair have been going to a secret church? I’m sorry, but that secret is lamer than the crippled dude that Jesus cured at the pool of Bethesda.
:38 I dunno about you, Serena, but everything I know about Catholicism tells me that God wants people who don’t love each other to be together all the time.
:45 If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Dan and Serena need to get back together! It’s the only relationship on this show that makes any damn sense!
:47 Louis is the prince of Monaco, not the prince of the ladies’ room. What gives him the right to shoo people out!
:48 Interesting. I was just watching the episode of the Simpsons where Bart and Homer almost convert to Catholicism. Those wacky Catholics!
:54 Serena assuming the mantle of the new Gossip Girl is a lot like X-51 assuming the mantle of the Watcher. Let me know in comments if you get that reference!
-10 for the writers not actually showing Lily and Rufus singing “Endless Love.” Can’t get enough of that tune!
:58 Hmmmmm . . . the real Charlie Rhodes goes to Julliard. Intriguing.
:59 If Nate thinks he stands a chance matching wits with Gossip Girl, well, I don’t know what to say. He doesn’t.
I used to play Scrabulous on Facebook, and then the other version after the Scrabble folks sued, so although I never got into Words with Friends—Zynga’s ultra-popular social Scrabble analogue—I knew exactly what my friend Reeves was talking about when he wrote this piece for The Awl. I’ll let him elucidate the issue:
In short, the problem we face is an epidemic of guessing. Unlike traditional Scrabble, where you can demand, on the spot, that your opponent find “zax” in the dictionary, “Words with Friends” opponents can be separated by zip codes, boroughs, even time zones. The game offers no penalty against guessing—it simply declines your attempt, politely encouraging you to try another improbable-but-high-scoring combination of letters.
The same complaints that commentators have about social networking degrading our interpersonal relationships and the anonymity of the Internet allowing us to adopt bolder and brasher personas apply to Words with Friends: words that you would never have the audacity, much less the knowledge, to place on a board laid out on a table between yourself and your friend become the cudgel you use to bludgeon your buddy via your smartphone and wireless network.
I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas, and immediately downloaded the Words with Friends app. Since then, I’ve been treated to words like talas, gorals, squeg, and lins. To say nothing of those lame two- and three-letter words that are coincidentally formed when someone lays a real word down next to a group of letters already on the board.
It’s infuriating. Reeves and I have a similar mentality, a belief in playing the game the right way. You don’t throw tiles haphazardly on the board. You don’t play a word you wouldn’t be confident playing on a real board. You don’t immediately look up the definition of the bullshit word you just played so that you can immediately cite it when you get called out. But you can only lose so many games before you wonder what the point of playing the game the right way is, if everyone else is going to play the wrong way.
Regular readers of Dangerous, Dirty, and Unfun understand that I’m nothing if not dedicated to self-discovery and improvement. As I continued to think about Words with Friends, I came to realize the hubris behind my attitude. I was concerned with playing the game the right way, but what game? In Words with Friends, the game will reject any combination of letters it doesn’t consider to be a word. In Words with Friends, there’s no requirement that you know a word, or are least confident that a word exists, before you play it. I was holding myself to, and more importantly judging my friends based on, a code of conduct that existed in my own head. Because the fundamental fact of Words with Friends is this: is isn’t Scrabble.
It looks like Scrabble. It smells like Scrabble. But it isn’t. Softball looks kind of like baseball; gin looks kind of like 500 rummy. But none of these games are the same! If they were, their names wouldn’t be spelled and pronounced differently. There’s no sense in playing if you’re going to try to impose the rules of one on the other.
It may sound stupid, but it’s been liberating, playing the actual game that you’re playing. However, comma, don’t expect me to be able to use “doit” in a sentence.
This is rich.
Apparently, a goodly number of former Penn State football players are pissed about their old school hiring Bill O’Brien, the New England Patriots offensive coordinator. O’Brien, apparently, doesn’t have sufficient, or any, ties to the Penn State program. In the real world outside of Happy Valley, having no ties to the Penn State football program is considered one of the more attractive items on O’Brien’s resume. Not so among several vocal members of the Penn State community, apparently.
I’ll be straight here. I know people that went to Penn State, and I’m sympathetic to their resentment at getting lumped in with the reprehensible monsters they once admired. However, comma, when the rest of us think of “the culture and tradition of Penn State,” we’re thinking “a culture of child rape, and of covering up and enabling child rape.” When we hear about the unique and special way of doing things at Penn State, we think about authority figures raping children and having their sins covered up. This doesn’t mean that everyone left at Penn State is evil, but it does mean that the “culture” and “tradition” of the place are rotten. If there were ever a time to run full-speed away from culture and tradition, or at the very least just keep your head down and shut up, now is it.
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