Monday, January 26, 2015

Real Life vs. The Movies: Let's be Honest

In the movie Galaxy Quest, a group of aliens watch movies and television shows produced on Earth. The aliens believe that all of the films are true and depict the history of Earth. They also take the films literally and assume that is how things actually work on the planet. Sounds silly, right? Not really. We do the same thing. We watch movies and expect our lives to follow suit. Life isn't like the movies. I'd just like to clear that up. Check out these 5 important differences between movies and real life.

1. Moving spontaneously to a new town.
     The movies: You randomly decide to leave everything one day and drive 14 hours away to another town, probably somewhere near the shore in South Carolina. Within hours of your arrival, you get a fully-furnished apartment and purchase a rottweiler to help protect you from the axe murderer who is inevitably stalking you (maybe this is a Lifetime movie?). Then you show up to the nearest establishment and remove the "HELP WANTED" sign from the door. You show it to the manager and earn a job within five minutes.

    Real life: You debate about moving for 7 years. It takes you 8 months to find a suitable apartment and four trips with your punch buggy to bring down all of your stuff. The first thing you do is sign up for a new library card.

2. Going to a new school.
   The movies: Someone trips you as you get on the bus, and you have to sit by yourself. You stare at the passing farmland, rueing the day your mother sent you to Kansas to live with your Aunt Mildred. Dramatic music plays. Once you get to school, an overly exuberant yearbook staffer offers to help you find your first class. Inevitably, she tells you that you have the same History 101 class. During your first class, the teacher introduces you, and three people in the room decide to hate you for no reason. When you get out of class, you bump into the same person who tripped you on the bus, and you drop 14 books all over the hallway. Because who uses back packs anymore. Then this really hot guy helps you pick up all your stuff, but he has to run to class before you learn his name.

    Real life: You drive yourself to school. The building smells like formaldehyde, but you figure you'll get used to the smell of whatever cleaning solution they use on the floors, walls, and windows here, just like you did at your old school. The person at the office helps you find your first class, and you pull the strings of your hoodie as tight as you can so that only your nose is showing. The teacher doesn't introduce you to the class because teachers don't actually do that. You use a back pack because that's what people do. You make it through the whole year without getting shoved into a locker, becoming the enemy of the lead cheerleader, or making a speech about how wrong you were about everything in front of the entire school.

3. Running from the police.
    The movies: You have time to stop every so often to purchase a new slick outfit, usually involving leather and cool sunglasses. You use the closing draw-bridge like a ski jump to propel your car onto the opposite road before the police catch you. You're with Nicolas Cage. When you total your first car, you get out, unharmed, and immediately steal a motorcycle.

    Real life: You wonder if you'll ever have the luxury of deodorant again. You try not to actually drive too fast because pot holes. You're by yourself and actually just late to work.

4. Sneaking out of the house.
   The movies: You got invited to this awesome party, but you're grounded. So you put on a disguise you happened to have in your closet. Then you toss a rope out the third-story window and climb down. Of course, your window doesn't have a screen. You show up at the party all fabulous and meet up with your friends. Before the night is over, you push your mortal enemy into the pool, get asked out on a date, and get home just before you have to leave for school the next day.

    Real life: You lie on the floor of you room repeatedly tweeting at Taco Bell asking why they don't deliver.

5. Living in the woods by yourself because you're tired of real life.
    The movies: After an upsetting life experience, you strike out on your own to live in the mountains. You build an impressive shelter out of a cave and weave a blanket out of pine needles. You start a fire with two sticks, just like you read about in your science book. You use some rocks to sharpen a stick and use it to catch fish in the river. A few days into your journey, you run into a bear that seems bent on your destruction. But really you have something to learn from it. While originally you planned to hunt and kill it and use its skins to make new clothes, you eventually come to respect each other during a final showdown during which you kill a wildebeest in front of the bear, and it decides to leave you alone out of respect. You live in the woods for two years and return a changed man.
    Real life: You try camping in your backyard, but the extension cord for the microwave isn't long enough, and you really wanted Ramen noodles, so you give up and go back inside.

Friday, January 16, 2015

How to Get Out of Any Conversation

There is no escape. You're standing in a crowd of fantastically interesting people at the sickest party of the year. This could have been the best night ever, but you've only been here for 12 minutes, and it happened already. Peabody Snodgrass, the most obnoxious blowhard on the face of the earth, has spotted you and is currently weaving through the crowd toward you so he can spew infuriatingly off-base political opinions at you for the next 45 minutes. If you're lucky. At the Christmas potluck last year, Miss Ginny was stuck talking to him for an hour and a half because he started ranting about 9/11 conspiracy theories, one of which involved the claim that Harry Potter is a real person. Rumor has it Miss Ginny has been going to therapy for eight months.

This doesn't have to happen to you. If you just knew how to excuse yourself from these unwanted conversations, you wouldn't have such disappointing party experiences. Use any of these tips, and you'll never have to deal with Peabody Snodgrass ever again. Get out of any conversation. Guaranteed.

1. Transform yourself into a walrus. This is very effective because most people would be very afraid of a large tusked mammal, especially if it looks angry. Even if your Mr. Snodgrass is one of the 1.2% of the population who is not, in fact, terrified of walri, he will likely be so surprised that you became one that he will run away shrieking—which is exactly what you want. If you don't get immediate results, try lunging toward his ankles. Works every time.

2. Ask about his toenails. You need to be in control of the conversation. The best way to end it before it starts is to ask your Mr. Snodgrass how his toenail fungus is doing. Ask, but don't wait for a response. Move right along to: "You know, you wouldn't suffer from all of these fungus problems if you just clipped your toenails more than biennially. I've also heard it burns calories."

3. Hide under a table. This works especially well if he hasn't seen you yet. But even if he has, it can still work. Just dive under any table with an adequate table cloth, cover your head with your arms, and refuse to respond to any questions he might bellow down to you. Once he is gone and you want to rejoin the party, someone might see you emerge from beneath the table and ask what you were doing. Remove the Egyptian mummified rat—that you stowed in your pocket before the party—and tell the other party attendee that you were geocaching. Just yell, "FOUND IT!" They'll get it. I promise.

4. Ask him if he wants to play the "quite game." First explain the rules. Whoever remains silent for the longest wins the game! Tell him you're going to "count down to quiet." Then begin counting down from 10. Once you get to 1, discreetly bash him over the head with a crow bar.

5. Excuse yourself politely. In other words, jump onto a chair, remove your sword from its scabbard, and yell, "You will always remember this as the day you almost caught Captain Jack Sparrow!" Then jump down and run across the room. Run fast enough so that he cannot follow you.

So there you have it. If you have recently witnessed people transforming into walri, diving under tables,  or imitating half-drunk pirates, you are Mr. Snodgrass. (P.S., Don't actually try number 4. I've heard that individuals of a certain disposition might find it offensive.)

Monday, January 12, 2015

5 Ways to Make Friends on an Airplane

If you're interested in sitting in a winged steel tube, plummeting through the sky at thousands of miles an hour, drinking Sprite out of communion cups, and watching a movie on a TV screen the size of your thumbnail, you're probably also interested in making friends with hundreds of people who really hope you don't talk to them. Do you fly a lot? Do you get lonely during your long travels? Never fear. Here are 5 easy ways to make friends on any airplane.

1. Make eye contact. The hardest part about making friends during flight is finding the ones who are interested in talking to you. (Don't worry; you can still talk to the ones who would sooner swallow a ziplock bag than talk to someone on an airplane.) Anyway, choose the passenger closest to you and turn toward him or her. Then open your eyes as wide as you can and stare at their left sclera. Since you're probably not a scientist, I should probably tell you that the sclera is the white part of the eye. If you can see the passenger's sclera, that means he is awake. You should stare just long enough so that he notices you. Then move slightly closer. If he asks any questions, refuse to respond. It's not to time to talk yet. Once a full minute has passed (if he's still seated and hasn't called for the air marshal), whisper, "Now, sonny, how did the whites of your eyes get to be so... white? What's your secret? Heh?"

2. Ask the person next to you to switch seats. Every five minutes. This is how you establish a connection. Eventually, he'll come to depend on you.

3. Bring 85 sticks of butter. No one really cares what you bring in your carryon as long as it's not dangerous. So fill your favorite back pack full of butter. Wait until the plane takes off. Wait until the person next to you falls asleep. Then, every so often, carefully peel the paper off one of the sticks of butter and throw the naked butter as hard as you can toward the people sitting in first class. If you hear a disturbance of some kind, just wait for it to die down before making your next move. After you've thrown at least 15 of the butter sticks, the passengers WILL become disgruntled and ask the airline stewardess to find out what in the world is going on. Pay the airline stewardess $100 to tell the people in first class that the butter is a free gift from the airline and that they should be more grateful. Once the stewardess leaves, throw some more butter. One of the passengers is guaranteed to become so disturbed that he straightens his toupee, climbs over four people, and marches toward your seat. Before he gets there, drop the backpack onto your sleeping neighbor's lap. Then lean against the window and pretend to be asleep. When Mr. Toupee starts yelling, wake up and yell, "IT WAS YOU!" and point emphatically at your neighbor, who is now staring incredulously at his recently acquired backpack full of butter. Now you have their trust.

4. Stand in line for the bathroom. This is where you'll meet the most interesting people. You can handle this situation in a variety of ways. Choose the one that works best for you.
    A: Turn suddenly to the person in line behind you and say in a loud voice, "Buddy the Elf! What's your favorite color?"
    B: Kick the person in front of you in the back of the shins. When he turns around to ask you what your problem is, say, "Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else."
    C: If you're first in line, knock on the bathroom door and say, "So, number 1 or number 2? You're taking a while in there!"

5. Ask every person on the plane if he or she has viewed the movie "Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail." It's a great talking point. It's easiest to get away with this if you dress up like an airline steward. Smile a lot, and pretend you're going to provide the passengers with refreshing drinks and criminally small-portioned snacks. Then, once you have their attention, ask your question. If an airline steward catches you, tell him it is part of a class project.

This piece is satire. I do not recommend that you actually try any of these things. Heaven knows none of them actually worked for me.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

How to Win a Facebook Argument Without Really Trying

It's happened to you. OR it has ALMOST happened to you. You're sitting there at 11:30 p.m. wearing sweatpants and an ugly T-shirt, haphazardly feeding yourself Cheez-its with your left hand while your right hand scrolls through facebook. Then you see them. The WRONG-PEOPLE. One of your friends has shared a link or posted a passionate status asserting an absolutely ludicrous opinion about some political, economical, social, or elliptical topic. You weren't going to say anything. But then you did. You just couldn't help it because they were so WRONG. Never fear. Here are five easy ways to win any facebook argument. Because it is definitely possible to win an argument on facebook.

1. Pretend you're going to be civil. Everyone knows you're eventually going to explode into cruel soliloquies, spewing hateful statements at your fellow facebookers—even if the discussion was just about the best kind of shoelaces—but at least make them feel, in the beginning, that you're going to be nice. You know, give them a false sense of your kindness and morals. Say something like: "Well, that's an interesting opinion, but..." Or, "Wow, I like the font you used in that facebook status." Then, lambaste them!

2. Attack their character, actions, and appearance. The most legitimate way to win any discussion is to tear down the people who oppose you. Make sure you curse a lot. Then they'll know that you're mature and mean business. Be sure to call them lots of names. For example, call them sexist, racist, everything-phobic, and stupid. Say: "I'll bet Santa Clause won't even bring you coal because your arguments are so lame!" Post pictures of them with a mustache that you photoshopped over their face. That is super original and will definitely help your case. As an extra bonus, personally message them as many hateful things you can think of. Forget the fact that it's the Internet, and they could totally screen shot it and send it to your mother/employer/principal.

3. Use improper grammar. Especially because you probably don't have anything worthwhile to say anyway, you should make sure it's super vague. The best way to do that is to use woefully incorrect grammar. Spell things incorrectly, especially if doing so could cause someone to mistake one word for another. Don't use commas; rambling run-ons make it sound like you're ranting! People will view you as a talented rabble-rouser, standing on your proverbial soap box in the midst of the crowd, talking down all who disagree with you. Don't use contractions, capitalization, or wording that makes sense. Word vomit! Go you.

4. Most important of all: make stupid arguments that don't educate, inspire, or make sense. Just repeat trite statements that you've heard before, especially if they don't apply. You get bonus points if you can argue with someone about something they aren't even arguing about. Extra bonus points if you get angry about it because you can't read plain English. Just make it clear that you couldn't write a passing argument essay in English 101 if the lives of all nine of your cats depended on it.

5. Ignore all of these rules and instead engage people in conversation in person. But this is hard. I know. One, because most people do not talk about these things in person. Two, because some people are too cowardly to disagree face to face and instead hide behind their social media sites and squabble using their hideously bad grammar. And three, because so many people are wrong on social media, and some of them are strangers. But remember, no matter how smart you are, you can never convince a dumb person that he is dumb. (So stop trying to convince me. It won't work.)

So there you have it. Go forth and act like mature adults on facebook! I know you can do it! (If you cannot tell that this is satire, then you should probably stay in school. If you can't tell that I'm also making fun of myself—because I, too, occasionally debate on facebook—then I suppose we cannot be friends because you do not understand sarcasm.)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

11 Things You Should be Doing If You're Single

Every article on the Internet is trying to tell me what to do. Because I'm a woman. Or because I'm a Christian. Or because I'm white. Or because I'm a millennial. Or because I'm a college graduate. Or because I'm American. Or because I'm single. "Here are 10 Things You Should be Doing If You're ______." It's "advice," but it's not usually based on anything substantial, like scientific evidence, the Bible, or valuable—applicable—life experience. Frankly, most of it is just a bunch of cliche poppycock. Either I'm already aware of it or think it's total bologna. Without further ado, I present to you, "11 Things You Should be Doing if You're Single." Brought to you by someone with only 23 years of experience, no relevant degrees, and a snarky attitude.

1. Stop trying to figure out what's wrong with you. Leave that to the experts.

2. Stop looking! Everyone over the age of 40 who is married will tell you that. When you stop looking for a significant other, one will find you! Of course, this principle also applies to finding a job. If you just sit on your couch watching Netflix for at least 11 hours per day, the CEO of Google will undoubtedly kick your front door down and offer you a full-time job at the company.

3. Work harder at work, take a weekend trip, or start a new hobby—like printmaking or pinecone collecting or duck hunting! Anything to trick yourself into believing there's more to life than having a significant other. (Wait, there actually is? What is this chicanery...?)

4. Reconnect with old friends. Because nothing is more helpful than spending time with your best friend from college who is married to a brain surgeon and lives in a house the size of your apartment complex.

5. Cut and dye your hair the way you want. Wear what you want. Eat what you want. Now you don't have to worry about what your significant other will think of you! (Or, you know, don't date a man who is actually stupid enough to tell you he wants you to change your hair or stop eating pizza.)

6. Make up a really great excuse for being single. Such as: "I'm going to avoid the dating scene for 2 years. Or, you know, however long it takes me to find another boyfriend." Or: "I'm trying to find myself." Or just be honest: "I'm a terrible human being that no one can tolerate."

7. Eat ice cream straight out of the carton, laugh like no one can hear you, and dance like no one's watching. Or however that stupid saying goes. Because that will definitely help!

8. Join Christian Mingle. This requires no explanation.

9. Buy yourself flowers. (Yes, one "advice" article literally listed this one.) Then tell everyone at the office it was your "secret admirer."

10. Change your own lightbulbs. Prove that you don't need a man to take care of your around-the-house tasks. (Again, this was literally published in an "advice" column about what to do if you're single.) WATCH OUT, WORLD! I CAN CHANGE MY OWN LIGHTBULBS, SO I CAN OBVIOUSLY HANDLE BEING SINGLE.

11. Call your mom and ask her to tell you what's wrong with you. (She will know.)

Note: I wrote this for my own entertainment, so don't argue with me about my "advice." I'm not a licensed professional, so you should ask your doctor before you implement any of these things into your life.