Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Has the imagination become obsolete?

Today on my drive back from the Malibu Hindu Temple (for class), I stopped at Barnes & Noble specifically to sit and read this month's "ideas issue" of The Atlantic because I was intrigued by the cover story, "The End of Men." What I ended up finding the most fascinating (if not the most depressing), however, was the idea put forth by Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air.

Kirn suggests that no one bothers to think or daydream anymore because it is so much easier to just whip out the iPhone to play games, stalk people via Facebook and send out usually unnecessary text messages. This happens when people are waiting for their friends to meet with them, when drivers get stuck at red lights and worst of all, when professors are telling students information students are paying to hear.

Why can't we take advantage of doing nothing anymore? I think my best gym experience occurred when I forgot my issue of Time and spent a good hour just daydreaming on the elliptical. (I don't know why I keep bringing up the elliptical; I'd really rather people not picture me in that state.) Sometimes the best ideas come about when you shut the laptop, turn over the Blackberry (or that damn blinking red light will be hard to ignore) and turn on the brain.

Some may argue that this constant connection to the interweb (my personal favorite word) allows people to stay engaged to what else is happening in the world 24/7. While I am a huge advocate of living beyond a "bubble" and I like checking my CNN app from time to time, the person sitting across from you at Starbucks may not appreciate the fact that he or she is not as interesting as Tony Hayward.

I am absolutely guilty of ignoring what's in front of me in favor of reading the latest Tweets, but I have found that life is a lot more interesting when you allow yourself to live as completely as possible in your surroundings. Even if there are no people around to ignore, those moments of silence enable the chance to ponder, reflect, consider...and get ideas for blog posts.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Five Reasons Summer Doesn't Suck THAT Much

Even though I haven't given up my cynical nature, I do think it's important to focus on the positives in life in order to maintain one's sanity. Ergo, I've forced myself to compile a short list of reasons as to why summer may not suck completely.

1) Catching up on news, books, shows, movies, music, etc.

I love the books I get to read for school (hello, English major), but I also love spending my summer catching up on books I either feel I should have read by now or books that I just really want to pollute my mind with. During the school year, I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt if I'm doing anything other than homework or studying. (Cue me on the elliptical reading Victorian poetry.) I remember my summers by not only the people I spend them with, but by the books I read. One of the best summers I've endured involved Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs (summer '07), which remains my all-time favorite thing to read. What you're reading, watching or listening to shapes your mood or mindset, so in order to keep a summer sunny, I recommend exploring lighthearted options (summer '09) in addition to the grimmer but necessary reads (summer '08).

Are you one of the 95 people (I actually don't know that many people) who has told me you want to watch 30 Rock but you just haven't? Hey, summer is perfect for that kind of thing! Also, catching up on old films is an honorable activity.

If it weren't for summer, I probably wouldn't have had the time to listen to Taylor Swift's Fearless album in its entirety. No wonder everyone likes her. Of course, realizing how much you can relate to her songs may or not result in a feeling of "Oh, crap, I am a 19-year-old girl."

2) It's SO easy to get ready.

Dress, sandals, done. Doing hair and anything more than minimal makeup is pointless when you're going to the beach and spending the evening in a movie theater. I know there are others out there who get really excited by the idea of spending the entire day in your swimsuit (uh, my swimsuit; I just really like it) It's oddly exhilarating.

3) Swimming laps

Speaking of exhilaration, my favorite exercise is absolutely swimming laps back in forth in my little pool at home. Only at night. It is one of the best activities you can do when trying to work something out in your mind. Listening to the Glee version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" is optional, but it certainly sets the moody, yearning tone of a typical summer night.

4) Those things that involve other people

There are some activities that just don't feel the same when it's not summer, such as driving around at night, spending the day at the beach, sharing a container of strawberries and exploring a new place. It's a lot easier to do these things when you don't have to worry about staying up all night cramming. ("Was she at the professor's again last night?" "Yes, but she claims she was up all night cramming." "Well, she was." "Oh, ick!")

5) Wet 'n' Wild

Some people don't have "water park personalities" (I'm talking to you, J. Tes.) Once you get past the long lines and dry your tears after realizing that Crocs are still around, this Phoenix water park can be pretty freaking fun. It's clean, conveniently located and the perfect place to go to act 10 years old. Taking a best friend is a good idea, or else those long wait times may be a little awkward.

(Not that I've ever been against awkwardness.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

"Look at that shallow boy!"

Looks > education?

This conclusion is brought to you by this article (thanks, Hillary, who posted it on Facebook). Apparently, the hiring managers Newsweek polled believe that looks are more important than a job candidate's schooling. (Really, they worded this to make it sound more dramatic, because a manager thinking where a candidate went to school is not very important may be a good thing.) What sucks for me is that looks matter more than a sense of humor (especially after being brought down earlier this year after reading this article about how men don't want funny women). Why would one prefer working with a humorless hot person over a hilarious ugly person?

The survey results also reveal that 57% of managers believe an unattractive person will have a more difficult time getting hired. This is meaningless, because I could say the same thing. What's sad is that 60% of hiring managers believe this practice is okay when the people getting hired are working in retail or represent the face of the company.

A very popular example of this is American Apparel, a company that requires hiring managers to take "full body head to toe" photos of their employees before they are hired. AA claims this has to do with "personal style," but if the employees are going to be wearing AA clothes when they're working anyway, couldn't they theoretically just show up in a Princess Leia costume? There's also Abercrombie & Fitch. According to my friends who have worked there, they tell their employees to ask the good-looking people who enter the store if they'd like to work there. That's how they do their "recruiting."

I'm torn on this issue because I think it's important to dress well in order to feel good and be perceived in a positive light by others, but I can't stand the idea of an attractive woman being hired over an average-looking woman with great credentials just because the boss wants to have a pretty thing around to lust after (or to have an affair with, since guys are really into that these days).

Confidence is still more important than looks, though, so standing up straight, looking people in the eye and smiling will have to suffice. I guess you can always just trick people into thinking you're good-looking.

Note: The title of this post is a Boy Meets World reference. Of course.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Suck it, Summer.

Yeah, I said it. I am counting the days until the school year begins, I have my best friend roommates back and I can start wearing my trenchcoats, scarves and boots again.

I'm not the first to lament the perils of summer. Diablo Cody despises wearing white, going to the beach and summer movies. I tend to avoid wearing white, anyway, because as my friend Cody tells me, "You eat like man." Going to the beach is stressful due to weather/traffic/parking, but it is the absolute only place in the world where I'm willing to get dirty, so I'm able to suck it up and deal with it. I absolutely agree about summer movies as I am so far from being a summer movie person. I am no enamoured by 3-D, I zone out during action sequences and I think that Iron Man dude is just kind of an asshole.

There are other reasons to be psyched for fall, though. The school year means classes, stress, roommates and generally being around a lot of people. This translates into discussing literature all day long, living on coffee and staying up late having sometimes deep but usually just innappropriate conversations with my roommates. That leaves less time for thinking, a dangerous and depressing activity. After conducting a very modest amount of research, I found that people tend to get depressed in the summertime because they feel like they should be out frolicking with friends and going to barbeques and that kind of junk, and they feel bad about not having such desires. I say if the outdoor thing isn't for you, embrace the extra time to catch up on those DVDs you bought but never watched and books you said you read but never did. Everyone else can go grill dead animals and get sunburnt.

So hurry up, fall, before I Tweet more Death Cab lyrics and beg my mom to send me my black tops.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Four Alternatives to Douchey Entertainment

I spent my last post hating on Pop Culture, whom I love and adore, so I am making it up to Her by providing a list of films and television shows that I highly recommend to college students who want to expand their respective metaphorical horizons.

1) Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)

I think the biggest consequence of living in a college dorm is that it forces one into a bubble. When the Sunday-Thursday goal is completing homework and the Friday/Saturday goal is to...not write blogs, it's easy to lose sight of the rest of the world. This is a shame, considering how easy it is to get news these days. There are plenty of sufficient sources out there, but I personally recommend my man A-Coop because he's a badass (see video below) and really tries to provide viewers with the truth in order for them to make up their minds about the issues. Plus, he's hilarious.

2) What Not To Wear (TLC)

I know I bitch about the way people dress all the time, but it's not totally unmerited bitchery. One thing Clinton Kelly stresses on What Not To Wear is that the way you present yourself to the world is the way you want people to see you. I honestly think it's a total "fuck you" to the professor to show up in pajamas. How seriously can an outfit like that be taken? Also, it takes just as long to put on jeans as it does to put on sweatpants. I highly recommend getting a light but beneficial dose of Stacy and Clinton every so often to get inspired.

And remember: "Sometimes comfort doesn't matter. When a shoe is freakin' fabulous, it may be worth a subsequent day of misery. Soak in Epsom salts and take comfort in the fact that you're better than everyone else." - Clinton Kelly

3) Heathers (on DVD)

After finally watching this brilliant black comedy from 1989, I decided it should be required viewing for anyone who is a fan of Mean Girls. I recommend this very dark and hilarious film to anyone who wished Regina George had gotten hit by that bus...multiple times. Go watch it now, because as one YouTube commenter wrote, "Without this movie, there wouldn't be Clueless or Mean Girls. These are the most important movies of our generation..."

Best clip:

4) Veronica Mars (on DVD)

I lived for this show in high school, so I still have this nagging voice within me that wants to shout to the world about how awesome it was. Now this is the type of role model girls these days could certainly use. The title character is the Buffy of the '00s - witty, intelligent and generally badass. I wish every girl could learn to be as confrontational as Veronica (the amazing Kristen Bell who needs to spend less time doing crappy movies) is in the clip below. It's never too late to start watching.

How I ended up being so confrontational:

I also really like receiving recommendations (other than "Stop being such a know-it-all douche.)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

You're not a character from Entourage. (And that's a good thing.)

Since when did being young or in college give anyone the right to be a total asswipe? And who should we blame for this recent outbreak of idiocy?

During a discussion with my friend Aya last night, I came to the conclusion that pop culture is to blame for this current trend that's sweeping the nation. Specifically, Judd Apatow movies and films like The Hangover, where Ed Helms ditches his wife (who's portrayed as a stereotypical shrew) for a hooker. I can't forget the douchiest show of all shows: Entourage. (I Googled "douchey shows" and it was, of course, at the top of the list of image results.)

You know what screenwriters write about? Fantasies. What they wish would have happened to them. Josh Schwartz created the character Seth Cohen to get the hot girl and write comic books, in other words, doing everything he wishes he could have done in high school. In Glee, Ryan Murphy based the character of Kurt's dad on the type of dad he wished he had - one that accepted him for who he was.

The only problem with this wish fulfillment writing (which is fine; I totally do it) is that it means you get a bunch of middle-aged men writing about a bunch of shit they wished would have happened to them. This means trying to get through as many women as possible and driving ridiculous cars and being generally disgusting. When college-aged kids watch shows like Entourage, they think "Hey, I should be doing that, too!" and proceed to act moronic. They expect girls to fall all over them and they often do, because college-aged girls need better role models. I've been through two universities - a very large state school that knows how to party and a tiny private school that knows how to party and pray simultaneously. This attitude of "I'm young, so I should live it up, drink it down and be grateful for Plan B " is prevalent at both schools, and all schools, I'm assuming.

I know you only live once and you may get hit by a bus tomorrow. Look both ways and that probably won't happen. And then what? Something a lot of college students don't realize is that the young and stupid choices they make now affect, for one, other people. These choices also impact how well they will mature when they transition from college to the workplace. They better wise up fast so they don't end up like this guy.