Tag Archives: the Internet

Ten-Year Blogaversary

As of today, I’ve been blogging for ten years.

Ten. Years.

For a trip down memory lane, here’s my very first blog post on what was then called Struggling Single Twenty-Something. I’m sure it will surprise none of you to know that I kicked off the blog with a Les Mis reference.

I’d just graduated college then and was living with Christina about five hundred feet off-campus from BC. I changed the name of the blog when “twenty-something” was no longer relevant. Whether I’m still “struggling” is up for debate, but I am sad that ten years later, I’m no closer to relieving myself of the “single” status.

Most of what I wrote in that first post is still accurate, minus the publishing job. It took me longer than it should have to realize that I should be doing something else, and I just celebrated one year in my higher ed job.

It kind of makes me wonder how much I’ve really changed in ten years. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like very much, and like I should have changed more.

Blogging has certainly changed. For one thing, very few people are still doing it. I’ve written about it before here and here, so I won’t repeat myself, but one thing I thought of recently: when was the last time you heard someone mention the blogosphere? It used to be a term people used freely, but those days seem sadly past.

Read this. I agree with it. You should blog.

And I need to follow my own advice, because while I’m still posting something at least once a month, as I have from the beginning, I definitely don’t post as often. I do love blogging, but motivation is hard when so few other people are doing it.

I’ve stuck it out with this blog for ten years. And maybe it will change forms, maybe I’ll change in ways I can’t forsee right now, but I hope I’ll keep it going for a long, long time. (And yes, I have a draft of the Zimbabwe post- going up soon!)

Why I Can’t Get Into Vlogging

It’s been said that blogging is dead, which is a shame, although I’ll continue to do my part to keep it alive. But one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people who used to be prolific bloggers are now channeling their energy into vlogs instead.

 

I’ve changed my mind before, so who knows if I will at some point in the future, but right now I feel pretty comfortable saying that I won’t be one of those bloggers-turned-vloggers, for a lot of reasons. The first is that, as I said in this post, I blog because I love to write. And vlogging is not writing. It’s talking to a camera, which doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I have a much harder time articulating what I want to say when I’m talking rather than writing. The few times I have vlogged were for Snark Squad’s Segue Magic, and I feel like what came out in those vlogs would have been much more articulate if I’d written it down instead.

 

Also, vlogging means that you have to look at yourself. A lot. I forget that there are people who actually like looking at themselves, because I hate it. But I guess it makes sense—I mean, look at people who vlog regularly. Literally ALL of them are attractive. Looks don’t matter quite so much in blogging.

 

It’s a shame, too, because while there are a lot of now-vloggers whose blogs I loved, that love has not transferred to their vlogs. And it’s not that their vlogs aren’t good or entertaining. It’s that I wish I was getting the same information in blog format. I read very quickly, for one thing, but YouTube videos have a set time, and I know that reading whatever the vlogger has to say would be quicker for me. And usually, if the vlogger is someone who’s regularly blogged in the past, there’s nothing that comes across in a vlog that wouldn’t in a blog post. I’ve never seen a vlog by a former blogger and been surprised by it or thought that they seemed different speaking than they do in writing—I find that most good bloggers are pretty good at writing how they speak. Consequently, I very rarely watch vlogs, even by bloggers I really love.

 

This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy the occasional vlog. But I think in order to choose to vlog something rather than blog, it has to contain some kind of content that doesn’t come across in writing. Like it involves singing or music, or a point of the vlog is pronouncing something or using a particular accent.

 

The other thing that can make a vlog worthwhile to me is a vlog that shows us something other than the vlogger’s face. Good example: I love the vlogs that different actors do and have done for Broadway.com—they show us interactions with other people and what things are like behind the scenes of different shows. (I’m particularly fond of these ones.)

 

The Internet is changing, and not always, in my opinion, for the better. I think it’s great that people find community in vlogging the way we used to at Twenty-Something Bloggers, but it’s not for me, and I wish blogging didn’t seem so dead.

 

I guess blogging joins the radio star in the list of video’s victims.

Playlist of the Moment: The O.C.

This is going to be a little more involved than your average Playlist of the Moment post, so bear with me here.

 

I mentioned in the previous post that I’d be guest-posting a recap of The O.C. on Snark Squad. Voila. Writing it was a lot of fun, and both that and just reading Snark Squad’s O.C. posts in general made a bit nostalgic, so I’ve been re-watching some episodes of the show that I have on DVD.

 

I was first introduced to the show my senior year of college by my roommate Steph. That was Season 3, and I caught up with the previous seasons with Steph’s DVDs and bonded with my roommates over the show.

 

If you’ve never seen it, here’s the Reader’s Digest version: teenager Ryan Atwood, from Chino, California, gets arrested after he and his brother steal a car. Shortly thereafter, Ryan’s mother abandons him, so he calls his public defender, Sandy Cohen. Sandy lives in Orange County with his son Seth, who’s Ryan’s age, and his wife Kirsten, a rich real estate developer whose father owns most of the O.C. By the end of the third episode, the Cohens have become Ryan’s legal guardians. Over four seasons, we see all kinds of soap opera drama unfolding, particularly with Ryan and Seth’s love lives (Ryan has a tumultuous relationship with their drama queen next-door neighbor, Marissa, while Seth’s long-term crush on Marissa’s best friend Summer eventually turns into something real), but it’s also about family. It’s one of the only teen shows where the parents are not only a huge part of the show but also really good parents. You don’t have to be a poor kid from Chino with a neglectful, drunk mother to want Sandy and Kirsten Cohen to adopt you- and although I think the network intended it to be more of a Dawson’s Creek-esque teen relationship drama, the most interesting part of the show for me was always Ryan’s relationship with the Cohens. The moments that moved me the most and that were the most memorable for me were always about the love between this tough, fish-out-of-water kid and his adoptive family. This article explains everything really well.

 

The O.C. is kind of the perfect show for a site like Snark Squad or the late, sometimes great Television Without Pity because there is plenty to snark on (the episode I just recapped had a character faking a miscarriage and another character having a ridiculous screaming meltdown) BUT it’s also genuinely enjoyable most of the time. I feel like most statements you could make about The O.C. have a BUT in the middle of them. It’s a teenage drama BUT it’s also about the parents and the rest of the family. It’s a trashy nighttime soap BUT it also has a lot of moments that are truly moving. It’s kind of like Dawson’s Creek BUT the characters are a zillion times more likeable- a lot of characters on The O.C. start off as villains and gradually become more three-dimensional.

 

During the first year I blogged, The O.C. was in its final season, and although ratings had dropped, the show was having a series of fantastic episodes. You might recall these posts, where I tried to convince people to watch it so it wouldn’t get canceled. I was unsuccessful, unfortunately, but falling headlong into an obsession with a show was exactly what I needed during that crazy first year out of college. (I was living with Christiana Krump at the time, and I’m pretty sure at some point she threatened to fake-divorce me from our fake marriage over The O.C.)

 

Anyway! Another great thing about The O.C. was its music. It introduced me to a lot of awesome songs that to this day are among my most-played. So here’s my playlist with some of my favorite songs that have been played on the show. Some highlights:

Alexi Murdoch, “Orange Sky.” I can’t remember if I knew this song before I heard it on the show or not, but either way, I adore it. It’s so soothing I swear it lowers my blood pressure. “In your love, my salvation lies in your love.”

 

Patrick Park, “Something Pretty.” Aptly titled. “And I’ve known ugliness, now show me something pretty.”

 

Placebo, “Running Up That Hill.” This show also had a lot of great covers- in fact, one of their six soundtrack albums is nothing but covers. This one, of a Kate Bush song, I like just as much, if not more than, the original.

Here’s the playlist. It’s not comprehensive, but it is a bunch of songs I like that were on the show. Welcome to my O.C. Playlist, bitch!

 

 

 

1. We Used to Be Friends, The Dandy Warhols

2. Caught by the River, Doves

3. Dice, Finley Quaye and William Orbit

4. Move On, Jet

5. Honey and the Moon, Joseph Arthur

6. California, Phantom Planet

7. Paint the Silence, South

8. The Way We Get By, Spoon

9. Rain City, Turin Brakes

10. How Good It Can Be, The 88

11. Forever Young, Youth Group

12. Fix You, Coldplay

13. Insomnia, Electric President

14. Hide and Seek, Imogen Heap

15. Goodnight and Go, Imogen Heap

16. Hallelujah, Jeff Buckley

17. Maybe I’m Amazed, Jem

18. A Bad Dream, Keane

19. Float On, Modest Mouse

20. Running Up That Hill, Placebo

21. California, Rogue Wave

22. Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own, U2

23. Start Today Tomorrow, Youth Group

24. Life Is a Song, Patrick Park

25. Any Other World, Mika

26. The House We Live In, The Stills

27. Orange Sky, Alexi Murdoch

28. Walnut Tree, Keane

29. Saturday Morning, Eels

30. Popular Mechanics for Lovers, Beulah

31. So Sweet, Johnathan Rice

32. Trouble Sleeping, The Perishers

33. Little House of Savages, The Walkmen

34. You Got Me All wrong, dios (Malos)

35. Specialist, Interpol

36. A Lack of Color, Death Cab for Cutie

37. Hello Sunshine, Super Furry Animals

38. Something Pretty, Patrick Park

39. On the Table, A.C. Newman

40. Play, Flunk

41. Hardcore Days & Softcore Nights, Aqueduct

42. Cartwheels, Reindeer Section

43. To Be Alone with You, Sufjan Stevens

44. Fortress, Pinback

45. Scarecrow, Beck

46. Eve, the Apple of My eye, BellX1

47. The View, Modest Mouse

48. Into Dust, Mazzy Star

49. Just a Ride, Jem

50. Mr. Brightside, The Killers

51. Your Ex-Lover Is Dead, Stars

52. Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Poison

53. Blue  Light, Bloc Party

54. Love You Til The End, The Pogues

Love for Fellow Bloggers

It’s been awhile since I did a post about other blogs, so time to remedy that! It’s weird looking at these two other posts I made about other blogs- I have the hardest time remembering that there was a time when I liked Jezebel, which is now one of my least favorite places on the web. There are some other blogs I mentioned that I don’t read anymore or that are defunct, so here’s an updated list of blogs I’m loving lately:

 

Witty Title Here

Written by Cassie Paton, a journalism student in LA who has a wonderful writing style and a great personality. She has a “Beer with a Blogger” series, which I will do my best to partake in if I’m ever in LA!

 

Widow of a Wounded Marine

Karie doesn’t update as often as she used to, but you should absolutely follow her and catch up with her archives. She started the blog after her husband was wounded by an IED in Iraq and continued it after he died of an overdose of his pain medication. She’s been through more pain at age 29 than anyone should ever have to, but it’s hard not to be inspired by how she’s persevered and thrived in the face of unimaginable loss. She’s a fantastic writer and she’s currently working on a memoir, which I would love to read!

 

A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings

Kirsti, aka Melbourne on my Mind, is a blogger whose posts I always look forward to. She’s Australian, a bibliophile (I’m a pretty voracious reader, but Kirsti reads over a hundred books per year!), and completely adorable. When I read her, I just think, Man, I wish I was in Australia hanging out with her right now.

 

I Am Begging My Mother Not to Read This Blog

A new-ish blog that took off very quickly. The author, Katherine Fritz, is a theatrical costume designer in Philadelphia, and she hooked me with this post. She’s hilarious and culturally relevant and all-around awesome. She also writes Ladypockets, an awesome spoof on how the media covers women and fashion.

 

Keeping It Trashy in the Bible Belt

Ally, who lives with her wife in Tennessee and manages a bar, is hilarious and claims to be “personally responsible for how dirty the South is.” She’s a Sox fan, too, so I hope she’s also responsible for recruiting more fans. After this past Sox season, we might need them.

 

Late Lorraine

I’ve enjoyed Lorraine (which is actually a pseudonym) ever since I joined 20sb. Her writing can crack me up or break my heart and always leaves me wishing we could hang out.

 

Love Woke Me Up This Morning

Emily is so enthusiastic about everything she loves, and it’s contagious. Like me, she loves books, writing, musical theater, cute dogs (especially hers, Bandit), and Disney movies, and her posts always make me smile.

 

Mara Wilson Writes Stuff

The girl from Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miracle on 34th Street eventually quit acting, grew up, and started a blog. And from what I can tell, she’s a pretty smart, cool person.

 

Snark Squad

I did recommend this site back when it was still called Childhood Trauma and mostly focused on the book series you read as a kid. Now they’ve expanded their focus- they did a post on each chapter of 50 Shades of Grey and its sequels and are also covering several TV shows, past and present. They’ve already snarked through Joss Whedon’s shows and are currently doing The O.C., Dawson’s Creek, Veronica Mars, Orphan  Black, and How to Get Away with Murder, among others. It reminds me of all the best things about the dearly departed Television Without Pity. The previously mentioned Lorraine and Kirsti, as well as Sweeney and Sara, whom I included in the older post, are among the Snark Ladies. And I’m super excited that I’ll have a guest post on an O.C. episode up on Snark Squad next week!

 

Yes and Yes

I love this blog for how diverse and interesting it is. The author, Sarah Von Bargen, writes about all kinds of things. Tips on traveling to different countries. Interviews with people who’ve experienced unusual things. Connecting people who are looking for a favor or have a favor to offer through her “Network of Nice.” Recipes that go along with books. The new things she’s trying to do. Many different topics, but always enjoyable and always fun.

Blogging About Blogging

I have now been blogging for almost eight years. And I have to say, I’m quite proud of myself for continuing to blog regularly. I decided early on that I’d post at least once a month, and for eight years I’ve stuck to that—and I almost always blog more than once a month.

I read a ton of blogs, so many that I can’t use The Old Reader without paying for it. And within the last year, I’ve noticed a lot of the bloggers I read have either stopped blogging, taken long hiatuses and then come back, or contemplated quitting blogging. There was this article at the end of last year (Lorraine alerted me to it) that declared the blog dead. I certainly hope that’s not true—for someone who reads as many blogs as I do, that would be a tragedy.

I, for one, have absolutely no intention of quitting blogging. I love blogging. My blog may change forms over the years (in fact, changes are soon coming to this blog, the least of which is its name—I turn thirty in nine days, so “Struggling Single Twenty-Something” is obviously a name that can’t last forever), but I hope I will never stop updating it.

But with so many blogs slowing down or stopping, it does beg the question of why. People stop blogging for all kinds of reasons—they’re too busy, they’ve run out of things to say, they’re not getting the audience they want, they’d rather just use Twitter or Tumblr (ugh), they just aren’t feeling it anymore.

That’s why they stop—but why blog, or why continue to blog? I’ve heard all kinds of reasons for that, too. Some people blog to document their lives, either for themselves or for people who know them. Or because they’re writing a book and want to build an online audience first. Or because they want to promote their business. Or because they have some kind of expertise that could help other people. Or because they want to start a conversation on some kind of topic of interest to them.

I thought recently about why I blog, and the answer I came up with is actually very simple.

I blog because I love to write.

Do I want people to read what I write? Well, obviously. If I didn’t, I’d be writing all of this stuff in a private journal instead. And I have really enjoyed getting to know other bloggers through 20sb and Boston Blogger meetups. But even if I’m just shouting into a void, even if no one ever reads this, even if I’m the last blog left on the Internet…well, I’m still writing. And I really enjoy writing. Having an audience is nice, but in truth, it’s just…the candy on top of the frosting on the cake. (I didn’t want to say “the frosting on the cake” because that’s one misguided metaphor—the frosting, in in my opinion, is the main reason to eat the cake.)

So I’ll keep blogging. “Struggling Single Twenty-Something” will become something new within the next week, but as long as I love to write, which I’ve loved all my life, I will also love blogging.

My Internet Origins

Recently, Television Without Pity, aka TWoP, ceased operations. In April, they stopped posting any new recaps and on May 31, the forums shut down. Even though I hadn’t posted in the forums for a long time and only occasionally popped in to read a recap, I was sad to hear it. This was a site I used to spend a lot of time on. I was very active in the Gilmore Girls forums for a long time and I made a lot of friends I’m still in touch with today.

But let’s back up a bit. The loss of TWoP, a place that was a huge part of my online life for a long time, got me thinking about what Lorraine and Sweeney on Snark Squad refer to as “internet origins.” Theirs are hereand here. And here’s mine.

When I was a freshman in high school, we got the Internet. I used my mom’s email to write to my friends, and I’d send these long, very enthusiastic emails to my friends. Except once I got a friend’s email address wrong and it went to some random guy.

We had dial-up Internet (my parents actually had dial-up until I was a senior in college), so I couldn’t spend too much time online for fear of tying up the phone line. But I never spent a whole lot of time online until the summer before my junior year of high school, when I got into The X-Files.

I got into The X-Files at a weird time—during the summer between the seventh and eighth season, just as the show was losing David Duchovny and the quality was about to rapidly decrease. Back then, they showed reruns daily on FX, and I’m kind of impressed with myself for how quickly I got caught up with the show considering that TV on DVD was not yet a thing. Instead, I just watched and taped those reruns, and since I was watching them out of order, I discovered X-Files fan sites that helped me make sense of what had happened on the show so far.

There was one big fan site in particular, now defunct, called Idealists Haven, where I discovered this little thing called fanfiction. I read a ton of XF fanfic—often saving them so I could read them offline and not tie up the phone—and eventually started writing it myself.

Yeah, that’s a deep, dark secret from my past. No, I will not share that fanfic here. Believe me when I say that it is truly, truly awful. I need to remove all traces of it from the Internet and then pray that the Internet is not, in fact, forever.

Then I went to college and The X-Files ended. Freshman year of college, the big thing was finally having high-speed Internet. I joined AIM and posted lots of melodramatic away messages. (Actually, I think I enjoyed coming up with different profiles and away messages more than talking to people.) I downloaded a ton of music through questionable means. I finally had my own email address.

Sophomore year of college was when I rediscovered Internet fandom. I was watching Monk at the time and started a short-lived Angelfire page (which I’d lost the address to until recently) where I just kind of rambled about my thoughts on each episode and which character had been the “coolest” in those episodes. While I’d always liked Gilmore Girls, this was the season where I started connecting with fellow fans online via TWoP.

Nothing has shaped my Internet life more than TWoP. I’ve made so many friends through that site and a lot of us have stayed in touch through Facebook and posting on a private forum. I’ve even met some of them in person. We used to have local TWoP cons where TWoP posters from Boston would meet for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, and meeting these people I only knew by their screen names was awesome and kind of surreal. I went to my first TWoP con my junior year of college and I was so nervous, but I had so much fun!

But, uh…one time I accidentally started a flamewar. It actually got a write-up on this site called Fandom Wank that documents Internet drama. I’m the Katie they mention in that post (they seem to agree with me, thankfully), but basically what happened was that after one Gilmore Girls episode that most fans liked, the recapper, Pamie (whom I actually like and who has since published several books and written for many TV shows), posted a really negative review. TWoP had this kind of asinine rule that you couldn’t criticize the recappers in the forums (although showering them with praise was fine), so when Pamie linked to the recap on her blog, I left a polite blog comment saying that I disagreed with her and other fans joined me. Well, the next thing I knew all the other TWoP recappers were piling on yelling at us and it majorly escalated, culminating in Pamie posting this really sarcastic recap for the next episode. I was mortified and, even though I didn’t think I’d done anything wrong, ended up apologizing to Pamie. I had not meant for any of it to happen—but now I kind of think the whole story is hilarious. Years afterward, I saw the incident mentioned elsewhere on the Internet and was like yeah…that was me.

Oh, yeah, and I started writing fanfic again. It got to be kind of an obsession—I’d be sitting in class planning out my next story instead of taking notes. But it was great writing practice and enough people read and liked my stories that it boosted my confidence a lot. (I’m actually pretty sure that more people have read my fanfic than anything else I’ve ever written.)

BC was on Facebook pretty early, when Facebook was just for college students and the URL was thefacebook.com, and I actually held out for a bit until I joined in December 2004. I was never on Myspace, though. All those pages where music started playing the second you opened the page annoyed me so much that I could never bring myself to join.

The same month I joined Facebook, I started my first blog, which I’ve since made private. I was very ambivalent about the idea of any kind of online journal or blog for a long time, but I finally decided to start one that only my online communities knew about. In 2006, several of my online friends and I joined Livejournal, and a few years later I started a second LJ where I did share some things with real-life friends. I no longer use either of them, though.

In September 2006, I started this blog. That same year, I got back into fanfic, this time for The O.C. (I have not relapsed since, though. And yes, I have often referred to it in terms of an addiction, because it is highly addictive!)

My most recent online community has been 20sb. Once I joined that, I discovered so many awesome blogs—and people—and have become friendly with many fellow bloggers. I wish 20sb was as active as it was in 2011-2012, but maybe that will change with the new redesign they’re planning.

And that’s my life online so far. More will be coming soon, specifically changes to this blog…stay tuned!

We Reduce People

In fiction, moral complexity is in. Today’s golden age of TV have brought characters who are difficult or whose intentions are ambiguous out of the realm of literary fiction and art house movies to popular shows like The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, and countless others. And we love it. When you consider a character, your opinion of that character is colored by many things other than “hero” or “villain.” On Mad Men, when nearly every main character has either cheated on a significant other or knowingly slept with someone who’s cheating, how do you measure which character you enjoy the most? On Breaking Bad, why do some people root for characters who’ve killed innocent people but hate other characters for smaller, personality-related reasons? I don’t watch Game of Thrones, so I can’t really comment on it, but I’ve picked up on some of the Snark Ladies’ interesting thoughts regarding the actions of some characters on that show.

Here’s what I’ve been noticing lately: this cultural embrace of moral ambiguity does not extend to actual human beings. With current events, there always has to be a villain, even in accidents where no one was really at fault. On the Internet, if anyone says anything regrettable, they’re never given the chance to backtrack or apologize—and even if they do, people will label them and discount anything they say from then on. There’s this ridiculous Tumblr, which I won’t link (if you’ve heard of it, you’ll know which one I mean) that catalogs everything that popular celebrities say that could be construed as “problematic”—even though some of those things are hardly problematic and some of them are things said or done while playing a character.

We reduce people.

We boil down every single thing about a human being—all experiences, all circumstances, all thoughts, all actions, all feelings—to one single thing we don’t like and slap a label on them.

We do it all the time, with everyone from celebrities to politicians to criminals to people we know personally or engage with online. It’s too much work to consider the bigger picture or to imagine that there’s anything more to a person than whatever we don’t like.

I say “we” because I’m guilty of this, too—too often. It’s easy to reduce. It’s harder to look closer and find the humanity in people we don’t like, or people who do things we don’t like.

I mentioned before that Schindler’s List, which I saw for the first time last year, is something I have a hard time talking about. The reason why is that what I took away from it was very personal, and I was afraid if I tried to explain it, it would come out sounding like I was making a movie about the biggest genocide in modern history all about me. But this was the revelation I had while watching it, a movie about a man who, despite doing an incredible thing that saved over a thousand lives, was not by any means a saint: if you lose your ability to see beyond whatever you don’t like about a person, if you can dehumanize people enough to boil them down to a single thing about their complex being—then that’s one thing you have in common with the Nazis.

When you don’t consider the humanity of every person, the inherent worth everyone has just by being alive, even people who do terrible things with their lives, it looks pretty ugly.

I’m often amazed by people who are more generous, compassionate, and forgiving than I am. When Fred Phelps died recently, I was surprised by the subdued reaction, which could be summed up as “let’s not stoop to his level.” My basic instinct is more often than not a desire for revenge, even if it always stays just a revenge fantasy, but thank God for the example of people whose hearts are bigger than mine.

Sometimes I’m not very good at forgiveness. But I’m trying to get better.

There’s no one thing that inspired this post. It’s a conglomeration of observations of things around me and in the world. But this is something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and something I always want to keep with me as I check my reactions when anything upsets me.

I don’t want to reduce people. And I don’t want anyone else to, either. People are all more than the sum of their complex, sometimes infuriating parts. I need to remember that while there is a great capacity for evil in humans, there is an even greater capacity for love, kindness, and compassion. And I need to recognize that greater capacity in all people as well as in myself.

Sorry, Rousseau

You might have missed this in this post, but if you were paying attention, you saw that I have left these sentiments behind and gotten a smartphone, for the first time ever. My apologies to Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Here are some thoughts on smartphone ownership after having had one for almost two months:

  • One of the biggest reasons I decided to get one was for the MBTA apps, so that I know when the bus is coming. I don’t have a car, so when I’m not near a T station, I’d like to know how much longer I have to wait in the cold/rain/heat until a bus comes to rescue me. OpenMBTA is pretty great, especially if I decide to take one bus that runs very close to my house. Unfortunately, it’s not a magic app- it can tell me when the bus is coming but doesn’t make it come any faster.
  • Instagram is overrated. I was excited to check it out after hearing so much about it, but I was very underwhelmed. Most of the pictures on it end up on Facebook anyway, and the filters really aren’t that big a deal.
  • Soundhound is better than Shazam. I feel like Shazam is the brand name people go to when they’re talking about using an app to find out what a song is, but Soundhound does everything Shazam does but does it better. It also gets everything I sing into it, even the obscure stuff, while Shazam doesn’t.
  • I love having the whole Internet at my disposal- if I’m out somewhere and want to show a friend Mark Wahlberg Talks to Animals, I just pull it up. However, it’s no substitute for a real computer and a bigger screen.
  • It’s great to discover apps for things you wouldn’t even have thought of. I just ordered Domino’s and did it all through the Domino’s app.
  • Talk-to-text makes no sense to me. You might as well just make a phone call. And on that note,
  • I refuse to talk to Siri. She scares the shit out of me.

Odds and Ends

Life goes on, and this week has been blessedly mundane. Here are five completely unrelated things.

1. THANK YOU to everyone who has donated so far to my run next week! If you haven’t donated yet, you have until Monday at 5:00 PM.

2. While I still don’t like Twitter, I have to say that one of the best feeds out there is Modern Seinfeld. I love Seinfeld and reference it way too much, and Modern Seinfeld cracks me up. The hypothetical plots they come up with are things I can completely see the Seinfeld characters doing. It is kind of strange to think about how much exists now that didn’t in the 90s- the Internet was barely a thing and cell phones were still new when the show ended.

But anyway, the other day they had their best tweet yet:

AMAZING. Even more amazing considering that my post on that subject was titled “Call Me Elaine,” in reference to the episode where Elaine hates The English Patient. I can tell you from experience that people really do act like you killed someone if you say you hate Arrested Development!

3. Line from Seinfeld I keep wanting to quote but can never find the right opportunity for: “You know, we’re living in a SOCIETY!

Line from Friends I keep wanting to quote but can never find the right opportunity for: “That is brand new information!”

4. On Sundays, I am now DVR-ing two shows, which are at polar opposites of the current spectrum of modern TV: Mad Men and What Would Ryan Lochte Do?.

Mad Men is still, in my humble opinion, the best show on TV. Even now, in Season 6, I’m marveling at how literary it is. I always tell people it’s a show for English majors- there is just so much to analyze and examine, both in individual episodes and across seasons and the whole show.

And then there’s What Would Ryan Lochte Do?.

Ryan Lochte cracks me up. He’s so pretty, and such a talented swimmer, but apparently there’s some chlorine water stuck in his brain because man, is he dumb. Male swimmers are usually huge dorks with great bodies, but most of them are somewhat smart. Not Ryan.

There’s only been one episode, but so far, while he’s definitely quite dim, he also comes off as very sweet, kind of like if Joey Tribbiani was a swimmer. Reality TV is often scripted (shocker!) but I did believe him when he said he just wants a girl to settle down with, and there was a really nice moment where he got teary talking about how his family always supports him.

I have to say, too, that the show is making me think of other shows featuring people who presented themselves as dumb. In 2006, Pink had that song “Stupid Girls” that called out celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Paris Hilton for dumbing themselves down. More recently, we had Snooki on Jersey Shore playing up the dumb factor, and one reason among many I was glad when Sarah Palin did not ascend to higher office was because I dreaded how her lack of intelligence, and seeming indifference to her ignorance, would reflect on women everywhere.

It would be awesome if we could live in a world where women didn’t feel like the best way to attract attention is by being pretty and dumb. That would be ideal, but instead we now have this show, where a guy is building his image around being pretty and dumb.

Uh, yea equality?

5. There’s a shortage of platelets available for donation now due to the bombing last week, so consider making an appointment to donate platelets!

Katie Recommends: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Jane Austen, 200 years after the publication of Pride and Prejudice, is still everywhere in popular culture. Even though her books are all set in a time and place that we can only imagine, the characters are people we can recognize in our own worlds, and the emotions and romances in them are timeless.

Clueless did a modern retelling of Emma, and now The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is doing the same thing with Pride and Prejudice—but in a much more interesting way. It’s a web series consisting of several three- to seven-minute YouTube videos, purportedly the video diaries of Lizzie, in this version a twenty-four-year-old grad student studying mass communications. This Lizzie, wonderfully played by Ashley Clements, lives somewhere in California with her family: her Southern-accented mother, who like the Mrs. Bennet of P&P is desperate to see her daughters married with babies; her laconic father; her older sister Jane, an unfailingly sweet fashion merchandizer; and her younger sister Lydia, the twenty-year-old wild child of the family. (Mary, in this version, is their cousin, and Kitty is literally a kitty.) Lizzie’s best friend Charlotte edits her videos for her and sometimes appears on camera. (Side note: for awhile the commercial at the beginning of every video was that stupid Pepsi commercial with Sofia Vergara at a wedding. That commercial doesn’t even make sense! Did she crash a wedding just to get Pepsi? She didn’t have an easier way of getting some soda?)

Here’s the first episode:

Plot-wise, the story stays pretty true to the plot of Pride and Prejudice. Lizzie meets Darcy at a wedding and takes an instant dislike to him, while Jane meets the equivalent of Mr. Bingley, here a med student named “Bing Lee.” Some conversations unfold in front of the camera, but a lot of others are reenacted with costume theater. Lizzie’s parents and, later, Catherine de Bourgh (who is here a venture capitalist who has invested in Mr. Collins’s digital media company) never appear on camera and are hilariously portrayed by Lizzie with token costumes. Lizzie also imitates other characters from the show, and Ashley Clements is pretty brilliant at it. The most recent episode (#96) has a lot of impressions in it (but don’t watch it out of order—you won’t appreciate her imitations if you haven’t seen the rest of the show!).  Darcy, in fact, doesn’t appear on camera until 60 episodes in, but prior to that, we see plenty of conversations with him through Lizzie’s reenactments—where, of course, her titular prejudice takes over. But after he does appear on camera (and, spoiler alert, is quite attractive), we see Lizzie start to fall in love with him in spite of herself.

Once the show got going, the producers started a few spinoffs. Lydia, played by the very talented Mary Kate Wiles, starts her own vlogs. Lydia is pretty unlikeable in P&P, but here she is hilarious. Those vlogs eventually take a dark turn as the modern equivalent of the Wickham scandal looms, and we see Lydia, who’d been an energetic little firecracker for the whole series, reveal her insecurities. (Wickham, in this version, is a swim coach with killer abs.) There are also videos with Charlotte’s sister Maria documenting her internship at Mr. Collins’s company as well as a series with Darcy’s sister Gigi demonstrating a product called Domino from Darcy’s company, Pemberley Digital. All of these spinoffs play into the overall plot, and you can follow the whole story in order here.

And aside from that, this show is really a transmedia triumph. The characters all have Twitter accounts and talk to each other there (you can check this list to follow all of the characters in the LBD universe) as well as Tumblr pages, and Jane is on Pinterest. And recently, Gigi Darcy did this in-character interview with Leaky News.

There are a lot of awesome moments throughout the series. In Episode 69, Lizzie takes a break and Lydia and Jane take over. Lydia giggles hysterically over “69,” while Jane, uncharacteristically, does a spot-on impression of Lydia…and then immediately apologizes. In Episode 83, Lizzie and Darcy flirt and Lizzie manages to convince him to participate in some costume theater, with really entertaining results. But like I said, watch the whole thing in order!

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is unfortunately ending in two weeks with their 100thepisode (well, 100th of the main show, not counting the spinoffs), so you’ll have to do a lot of catching up if you haven’t seen it yet. But if you like Pride and Prejudice, you absolutely should.