Wacky Secessionist Movements And You

Hi, Upstate New York.

It’s me, Molly.

No? Molly D. From third grade. We used to hunt deer together by the cornfield then eat chicken wings? That Molly.

Just kidding. Everyone “upstate” doesn’t know each other, because there are 7 million people up here.  New York would actually rank in the top 15 states for population even if you cut off New York City and the surrounding counties (which … don’t. Okay?).

We also don’t all live in the country. My metro area has a little over a million people in it, about the same as Tucson or Salt Lake City – not huge, but definitely a city. There are other cities of about the same size roughly an hour’s drive away in either direction. I’ve only been lost in a corn field twice, and that was in a corn maze – which is admittedly pretty Upstate, but in a good way? Also, all of the major metropolitan areas up here vote blue, and most of us aren’t gun nuts.

The chicken wings are pretty legit, though. That is true.

Right now, those of us “upstate” (which people here only really use to refer to the far north country) are dealing with a viral news story about a few thousand wackos who want to break free from New York City, rename “upstate” New Amsterdam, and carry guns into grocery stores. Or something.

Needless to say, these dumbos use the WORST fonts.

Anyway, here’s a quick guide to dealing with wacky secessionists before we have to deal with a whole different kind of regional embarrassment and disappointment: the beginning of another Buffalo Bills season (ahem… that’s mostly just Western and Central New York and the Finger Lakes. See? New York’s got regions.).

(1) Don’t Take It Personal

Wacky Secessionist Movements are so embarrassing, even though YOU aren’t really the one behind it. It’s like, you know that one Racist Cousin, Drunk Uncle or Tarot Aunt you have? Yeah, they probably are New Amsterdamists. But also, it’s like if a stranger met one of them then let that color their impression of you. It would be annoying, but youe would be comforted by the fact that their opinion was totally baseless.

Look. There are seven million of us. Are some areas so godforsaken and Deliverence-y that I would be scared to stop in a gas station there alone? Probably. Are there stretches of land so desolate that the grizzly bear and deer population outstrips humans? Yes. Have I seen a camouflage pickup truck? Definitely. Have I witnessed a bride walked down the aisle by someone in a baseball cap? Once. Did any of these things help my case that we’re not all totally bonkers up here? Probably not. I guess my point is that most rational people will realize that in such a large and populous state, there are all kinds of people, from polished professionals to toothless yokels. I should probably also point out that some of those are surely Toothless Yokels with hearts of gold, and that plenty of totally cool, intelligent people live in Toothless Yokel Country for one reason or another, be it work, family, or just personal preference.

Wherever you live, at some point crazies from your state are probably going to start a campaign to secede from the state or repartition the state boundaries. It’s an American tradition. But sensationalist headlines aside, most people WILL realize that this doesn’t represent everyone who lives there. It’s times like this you have to take a cue from Monica: it’s just one of dem days. Don’t take it personal.

(2) Don’t Read The Comments

My first mistake was reading about this in a Gawker article someone linked to. My second, more grievous mistake, was scrolling down to the comments. At least for this article, the commentariat was comprised mainly of people who failed the reading comprehension part of those state tests in fourth grade because they only read the title. If you scroll to the comments, you will see commenter after commenter suggesting that “upstate New York is trying to secede” rather than “3,000 Choice Nutjobs Want To Secede (Because They Want More Guns In School?) (And Probably Also Prayer, While We’re At It) (And Can We Cancel Sex Ed? Thanks.)”  So you get all of these people saying “good, they should do it, everyone up there is worthless and miserable” and you’re reading it thinking “no no no, nobody I know wants this.”

Or, if the commenter is corrected that only 3,000 people want it, they pat themselves on the back for thinking of “jabs” like “they must have counted wrong, that’s more people than live up there.”

Or my personal favorite: “I drove on backroads not going through any major cities on my way to a wedding in Pennsylvania one time, so I know all about how trashy everyone up there is.”

There. I summed up all of the comments for you.

Now don’t read them.

(3) Know That You’re Not Alone

Hey “upstate.” Chin up. Any state worth its weight in Buffalo wings and tomato pie will deal with this at some point or another.

Although most articles refer to these movements as “secession” – and thus I’m using it here – what we’re really talking about is partition: taking an existing state, dividing it into two or more states, but remaining under the U.S. banner. And it happens kind of a lot.

Some folks in Arizona want to create Baja Arizona, which is I guess a state and not a new Taco Bell item.

A few people in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan want to partition into Superior. Oregonians from the 1940s formed Jefferson, and some Montana residents in the 1940s tried to make Absaroka happen.

So if you’re an “upstate New Yorker” – or a Western New Yorker, Central New Yorker, Hudson Valley resident, Southern Tier…ist?, or Catskills Guy (not sure) – hold your head high. When was the last time you heard someone scoff at Montanans as “those idiots who tried to form Absaroka?” Sooner or later the crazies will go back to building their underground bunkers before squirrel hunting season starts in earnest, and the whole thing will die down. So order in a Styrofoam container of wings and heat up those chicken riggies, take some Kodak pics of that Fred Jackson jersey you’re trying to sell – it will all be over soon enough.

MissUnderstood: A Tale of Ignorance and Song Lyrics

Do you ever think about the first songs you knew all the lyrics to as a kid? One of my earliest memories is singing along to Real McCoy’s Another Night while in the backseat of the car, jamming along to the radio. The song itself was pretty easy to memorize as a nine year old, since it was basically the same verse and chorus over and over again.

Another night, another dream, but always you / It’s like a vision of love that seems to be true
Another night another dream, but always you / In the night I dream of love so true

But then there are songs I sang along to without knowing the meaning until later. Like way later. Like maybe in the past few years (months, days, etc.)

I came across this Spice Girls revelation on Tumblr the other day:

Screenshot 2015-08-31 11.25.38

REMEMBER HOW I LEGIT DIDN’T REALIZE THIS UNTIL NOW????

Honestly. I thought when she said “put it on”, it was a British way of saying like, “put your sexy times mindset on because we’re gonna GET IT ON, GET IT ON”.  My logic makes sense, okay? But this is obviously not the only song that has been misunderstood and changed lives of adults all around there world. Here are some other tunes that I didn’t realize meant something else until I was much, much older. Did y’all have your own tracks you didn’t realize were somewhat offensive until recently?

Too Close by Next

Baby when we’re grinding / I get so excited
Ooh, how I like it / I try but I can’t fight it
Oh, you’re dancing real close / Cuz it’s real, real slow
You’re making it hard for me

Apparently I memorized all the words to this when I was 11, but didn’t understand any of it. Like, every single world in this is sexual. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I didn’t realize this whole thing was about fornication. How could I possibly miss all of it? Actually, I know why – because I was a naive 11 year old who just really enjoyed ’90s R&B music. I’m not a monster.

Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind

Doing crystal meth, will lift you up until you break
It won’t stop, I won’t come down / I keep stock with the tick-tock rhythm, I bump for the drop
And then I bumped up, I took the hit that I was given /Then I bumped again, then I bumped again I said… How do I get back there, to the place where I fell asleep inside you

In all fairness, Stephen Jenkins said these lyrics so fast and garbled that it was kind of hard to tell what he was saying. On top of that, add the fact that it’s a fun, bouncy pop song – about getting high on speed. He said of the song, “It’s about a time in my life when it seemed like all of my friends just sort of tapped out on speed… The music that I wrote for it is not intended to be bright and shiny for bright and shiny’s sake. It’s intended to be what the seductiveness of speed is like, represented in music.” Whoa.

Brick by Ben Folds Five

They call her name at 7:30 / I pace around the parking lot
Then I walk down to buy her flowers / And sell some gifts that I got
Can’t you see / It’s not me you’re dying for
Now she’s feeling more alone / Than she ever has before

I always thought this song was a downer, but I didn’t realize just how MUCH of a downer it was until my friends told me in college. Yes, college. Ben Folds said he wrote this song about his high school girlfriend who decided to get an abortion, and he doesn’t really like talking about it that much since it’s obviously a sad subject. The meaning is much more obvious in the music video, but this was pre-TRL so I didn’t watch music videos on the regs.

You’re Makin’ Me High by Toni Braxton

Let’s make a deal you roll, I lick / And we can go flying into ecstasy
Oh Darlin’ you and me / Light my fire
Blow my flame / Take me, take me, take me away

Toni Braxton also has a penchant for sounding like she’s gargling while singing, but I really didn’t know that in addition to this song being about getting it on, it was also a song dedicated to weed. She said during a Behind the Music special that the was introduced to pot for the first time a week before she wrote the song, and was influenced (under the influence, amirite) to add the lyric “you roll, I lick…”

Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler

Once upon a time there was light in my life / But now there’s only love in the dark
Nothing I can say / A total eclipse of the heart

Songwriter Jim Steinman, who also worked a lot with Meat Loaf (which could explain the absurdity of this), originally titled this track Vampires in Love. He said, “Its original title was ‘Vampires in Love’ because I was working on a musical of Nosferatu, the other great vampire story. If anyone listens to the lyrics, they’re really like vampire lines. It’s all about the darkness, the power of darkness and love’s place in dark.” He later used the song in his musical called Dance of the Vampires (someone has a fetish), but if you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of it, it’s because it was a total flop that lost $12 million in 2002.

 

Closing Time by Semisonic

Closing time / One last call for alcohol so finish your whiskey or beer
Closing time / You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here
Closing time / Time for you to go out to the places you will be from
Closing time / Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end

Although this song was written by Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson after he wanted to write a new tune to end their concerts with, as well as the hope to be played at bars at the end of the night, he also realized it was about something else completely different – childbirth. Dan and his wife were expecting their first child when he was writing the song, when he realized it was also about childbirth and the circle of life. He said, “I had birth on the brain, I was struck by what a funny pun it was to be bounced from the womb.”

Tutti Frutti by Little Richard

My personal connection to this song is that I danced to this in tap class as a kid, complete with poodle skirt costumes to go with the 1950s theme. However, imagine my surprise when Little Richard originally wrote this song as an ode to something completely unrelated to kids’ dance class. Anal Sex. This was his first draft of the song:

A wop bop a loo mop, a good goddamn / Tutti Frutti, good booty,
If it don’t fit, don’t force it / You can grease it, make it easy.

If you don’t know anything about Little Richard’s past, you should really look it up, but basically, around this time in his life, he was sleeping with the fellas, hence the inspiration for the song. The producer of the track recognized the sexual nature of the song and made Little Richard change it to “Tutti Frutti, aw rooty”. Childhood ruined.

 

First House Diaries #2: Rooms Of Your House, From Most To Least Haunted

When you’re buying a house all by yourself, you deal with the real life threats first: does this look like a neighborhood I’m going to get serial killed in? How many break-ins have there been nearby? Is the roof sturdy? All of that stuff. But when you’re going to open house after open house, there comes a time when your house hunting expedition becomes a ghost hunting one. You want to make sure you don’t get Amityville Horror-ed, right? So check your dream home in the following areas before you put in that offer. Here are the rooms of any house, from most to least likely to be haunted:

(1) Any Unexplained, Walled-Up, Partially Hidden Room

 

You know what should have absolutely nothing to hide? Your HOUSE. If there’s a hidden doorway, a room you can only access through a closet, or a Harry Potter-style Cupboard Under The Stairs, your house isn’t being up front with you and probably has a secret. And that secret is ghosts.

In one of the houses I toured, the attic had a hastily-constructed extra room with chipped, clawed-looking walls and creepy ’50s children’s book illustrations on the walls. When I walked in there, my very first thought was “oh hey, that’s where the ghost lives.” Basically if there’s a weird room that makes you say “that’s where the ghost lives” – yep, that’s where the ghost lives.

(2) Bedroom

Bedrooms aren’t the most inherently creepy-seeming room of the house, but think about it. Most people’s ghost stories start with them being awoken in the middle of the night with a ghost staring at them. GROSS.

(3) Bathroom

I know, not the attic or basement? No, not yet. If a ghost wants to be extra creepy, they’d definitely hang out in the bathroom. It’s really all about the shower curtain. Imagine leaving the shower to find a ghost staring at you. Or worse, opening the shower curtain and finding a little-girl ghost in an old-timey dress in there. Plus there’s the bathroom mirror, prime location for Bloody Marys and menacing fog-writing.

As a kid, my house’s bathroom gave me the willies, to the extent that I used to rush and take showers as quickly as possible. As an adult, this habit has helped me maintain really low water bills so I’m not complaining. But the wacky thing is that years later, my mom told me that she went to a psychic who out of nowhere mentioned that the tiny hallway in front of the bathroom was the portal that the ghosts came in and out of.

(4) Attic

Here’s my rationale for the attic being more full of ghosts than the basement. Attics are usually less readily accessible than basements, so if someone had something to hide they would probably keep it in the attic. Secret deformed children, a church of satan, a wall of victim’s photos: attic material, all of them. Plus while your basement probably contains frequently-used utilities that might deter a ghost infestation (washer, dryer, furnace), your attic is more stagnant so ghosts are more likely to accumulate. Also moths, spiders, etc. Pretty much just don’t go into your attic.

(5) Basement

Don’t get me wrong, basements are still creepy. The main reason is that these are the most likely place in your house for a body to be concealed. Unless someone really Telltale Heart-ed it, there probably isn’t a body under your floorboards, but there might be one under that weird patch of mismatched concrete on your basement floor.  Apparently my great-grandparents’ house had a notoriously haunted basement – like, they were known for it – so my fear of basements might be part of my genetic memory.

(6) Hallways and Stairwells

 

Again, I blame my childhood home, which had a stairway landing so creepy that I used to try to fly past it on my way up and down. Maybe I should just blame being a weird kid. Still, hallways are full of doors for ghosts to pop out of, or twists and turns where you can see a ghost in the distance. If you want an excellent example of the hallway as a ghost device, look no further than The Shining.

(7) Kitchens

Kitchens aren’t spooky, but if you have a Poltergeist-y ghost that likes to play with things you’ll probably find it in the kitchen. Between the stove, faucet, microwave and fridge door, there’s a lot to open and close or turn on and off – like a Melissa and Doug toy, only for ghosts.

(8) Dining Room

I’ve just never heard of anyone having a haunted dining room, you know?

(9) Living Room/ Family Room/ Den

Here’s how I feel. Poltergeist aside, I think TVs are inherently confusing to ghosts, who seem to always be from sometime pre-1950. Not that they have to be, but I’ve never heard of anyone say “yeah, there’s a ghost in my house. He always appears and disappears wearing zubaz and a slap bracelet with a hypercolor shirt” or “we keep seeing this woman at the attic window with a spiral perm and mall bangs, checking her swatch watch then staring into the distance through her Sally Jesse Raphael glasses.” So if your living room is your TV spot, the ghost is just not interested. Now, if you have one fancy living room that just has uncomfy couches and a piano in it, the ghosts might like that one.

Real rational talk: ghosts make no sense. I don’t know why I would believe in the spirits of dead people manifesting out of thin air, when I barely believe in … you know, myself. (JK, I think I’m pretty good.) But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t cross my mind when I looked at houses – particularly the one with the ghost room in the attic.

ICYMI: Unauthorized = A Lot Of Lies About 90s TV Shows

Have you had a chance to check out The Unauthorized Full House Story yet? Don’t fret, we covered it for you:

Questions, Comments, and Concerns: The Unauthorized Full House Story

Another day, another unauthorized story of a 90s TV show from those fine folks at the Lifetime network. This past weekend it was all about Full House, that TGIF (and TBS/WGN/ABC Family/Nick at Nite) favorite that was a staple in our adolescence. We grew up with the Tanners-Katsopolis-Gladstone clan in our living rooms as we watched them grow up in theirs. We saw Rigby the Rhino, Tommy Page, the Beach Boys and even Little Richard come through the doors, and now, we get to see what really went down behind the facade of the Full House. In theory, that is.

Lifetime describes the movie as “the rise of the cast of one of America’s most beloved family sitcoms and the pressures they faced in balancing their television personas with their real lives”. But according to the FH cast, the movie wasn’t exactly how it went down, and to be honest, I’m more inclined to believe them.

Why? I had a lot of things going through my mind while watching it, so if you tuned in or even if you didn’t (probably better that you didn’t), let’s discuss The Unauthorized Full House Story

Question: Why is the VERY first shot of this movie a bush?

Photo Aug 24, 12 45 28 AM

Comment: We start in 1987, when they shoot the pilot, but I’m distracted because the fake Full House set looks like Becky’s house on the real Full House.

Photo Aug 24, 12 35 03 AM

Comment: The cameramen are laughing at the show. While it’s filming. This isn’t how television works.

Comment: We flashback to 1985 for origin stories, starting off with Bob Saget, who is doing stand up and taking about tampons. He sounds like Seinfeld shouting, ‘What’s the deal with tampons?!’

Question: Bob and Dave knew each other before the show? The world of standup comedy is smaller than you think, so it makes sense these two knew each other before FH.

Question: Dave Coulier was almost on Saturday Night Live? Really, how did I not know this? Apparently he was hired then Lorne and co. were like JK, you’re too similar to Dana Carvey. Ok… But tbh, he seems like a better fit for Full House than sketch comedy.

Photo Aug 24, 12 37 37 AM

Comment: John Stamos is played by Justin Gaston. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he used to date Miley Cyrus. Now he’s playing John Stamos playing Uncle Jesse in a Lifetime movie. Miley is hosting the VMAs on Sunday.


Feeling nostalgic? Did you also miss Lifetime’s Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story? We got you covered there too.

The Unauthorized Saved by the Bell Story: Live Blog

T: I am going in on this fairly blind folks. As a preface, Saved by the Bell was like the number one show for me. Sure I watched Full House and Boy Meets World and the ilk, but nothing really compared to SBTB. I remember watching it before I went to school in the morning and then again at night. It got to the point where I knew exactly which episode it was just by the first 5 seconds of the opening scene. I once taped (on a cassette) the school song and tried to convince our chorus teacher to let us sing it for our 8th grade graduation (I convinced her to let us sing Seasons of Love from Rent instead). It was the first show that I was every obsessed with and probably the reason why I’m obsessed with TV now. That being said, I hold SBTB and its cast/characters in a special pedestal in my heart, so I’m taking this entire movie with a grain of salt.

T: Ah yes, the movie starts out in Cincinnati, Ohio, where every great story about 90s teen idols begin.

M: These children look like a pack of college kids dressed as Saved By The Bell characters for Halloween. It’s like the Garbage Pail Kids when you’re expecting Cabbage Patch, or that weird baby with the unibrow who’s Maggie’s nemesis on The Simpsons.

T: The kid playing Zack has the DUMBEST face and I’m already annoyed with him. He looks like he’s 10. And The dude playing Mario Lopez is way too ethnic. Yeah, I said it.

I’m gonna start counting the number of times I say ‘I can’t’ outloud to myself whilst watching this trainwreck. (1).

M: FAKE ZACK CALLS A TIME OUT. I’m sort of obsessed with this movie already.

T: The depressing thing about this mob scene is that these girls weren’t even born when Saved by the Bell: The College Years ENDED. 

T: Baby Zack’s IRL time-out only works within the walls of Bayside, duh. Uh ‘Dustin Diamond’ just stole BZ’s thunder by taking control of his time-out. (2)

Hold up – Dustin Diamond was a legit executive producer on this? I know it’s based on his book, it makes sense, but my best guess is that he just tried to make everyone else except ‘DD’ look like shit.

M: Fake Steve Buscemi (okay, a man with deep-set eyes) says they need to set the show in the Midwest, although there’s never been a show set in Indiana before. See, 2014 is all about sitcoms set in Indiana, but the late 80s and early 90s were very Southern California-centric. That’s why everyone was so into L.A. Looks.

[Kids, L.A. Looks was hairgel that every early 90s teen used, and it looked like Aloe Vera. This has been a message from C+S Cares, a social outreach ministry where we teach teenagers what the 90s were like.]

T: So apparently BZ/Mark Paul Gosselaar had the hots for Lark Vorhees from the beginning? Relatedly, this is what Lark looks like when she goes to the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

Was it really necessary to point out that MPG is part Indonesian? And that DD commented on his hair?

M: Fake Hayley Mills has major 2014 hair. Inaccurate.

T: True story: My first introduction to Hayley Mills was via Good Morning, Miss Bliss, so I’m probably one of the only few people that doesn’t correlate her with The Parent Trap.

M: The adults in the futuristic office discussing SBTB are so stupid. Like, an unlikely level of stupid. They don’t believe that kids would rather watch a show about kids instead of teachers. They exposition that there has never been a live-action show starring kids before. But even in the 50s and 60s … Mickey Mouse Club? Leave It To Beaver? Lassie? Okay, I guess the last one was mostly the dog.

They also gloss over the existence/firing of Mickey and Girl Mickey. Those kids from Good Morning Miss Bliss? And the girl freed the frogs from the science lab? That might have been Jessie, actually.

T: No, I think it was Nikki (Girl Mickey). Can’t remember Mickey’s real name. Too lazy/don’t care enough to look up.

[ M: Laterblog: I googled it in the morning. Mikey and Nikki. Yeah, I’m just going to keep calling them Mickey.]

Far (L) Mickey or something. Far (R) Mickey the boy version.

T: DD comes into rehearsal lit’rally acting like a quacking duck and everyone – everyone thinks it’s hilarious. Even the dude playing Mr. Belding. BZ/MPG says, ‘He’s awesome!’ about DD. I feel like that sentiment’s not going to last throughout the movie…

M: At what age, if you’re saddled with a name like “Tiffani Amber,” do you say screw it and just introduce yourself as Tiffani? Evidently older than “Tiffani Amber” is here.

T: The original title of SBTB was apparently ‘When the Bell Rings’, which is very similar to ‘As the Bell Rings’, a short (like 5 minute interstitials) on the Disney Channel like 7 years ago. The show was actually kind of similar to SBTB, and took place entirely in a school hallway, starring pre-Demi Lovato Demi Lovato and the white kid in MKTO. I may have been obsessed with this one song, because I am 12 years old.

This blonde casting bitch is really into racial profiling. First she wanted to adhere to Lisa as a ‘Jewish American Princess’ and now AC Slater turns out to be Latino and not Italian.

M: “It’s a comedy about kids, how much range do you need?” LOTS. Tons.

T: Since when was the SBTB casting room Mad Men in 1989?

If I’ve learned anything from this movie so far is that DD’s dad was a real asshole and cared a lot about his car’s mileage.

(3)

This first table read is already a mess. DD realizes everyone is starting to get along without him and he even has to sit next to Dennis Haskins (Belding) because it’s the only seat left.

The Executive Producer Peter Engel tells the gang that they need to keep their relationships professional, but Mario Lopez apparently didn’t get the memo. He also didn’t get the memo that he doesn’t need to dress up like his character at the table read.

UH OH MPG AND LARK ARE HOLDING HANDS UNDER THE TABLE! And by hands, I mean Lark offered her pinky, and MPG is grasping it with his hand.

I have a problem with this set. Mainly because it’s NOTHING like the real one.

M: Fake Bayside is probably the worst casting yet. It looks like a Disney Channel Original Series set.

Real Bayside. BONUS: Those rando twins who must have been recurring contract extras; Jessie Spano being the worst, probably.

M: Now the kids exposit about their talents, interests, and ethnic backgrounds. God. There is nothing more insufferable than someone full of hope and promise telling you what they’re good at.

T: Kelly was urged to talk about her beauty pageant days (Miss Bayside?) and Elizabeth talked about how she’s a dancer. Mario said he was too, and she replied, ‘YOU’RE a dancer?’ and Mario was all, ‘You tell me’ and I legit had to stop to gather myself because, second hand embarrassment. (4)

The people in the live studio audience are definitely not wearing 90s fashion. Who dressed them? I WANT MORE SCRUNCHIES.

M: Wardrobe moment: Lisa’s outfit and hair look so accurate, and Slater has a good jheri curl mullet and crop top, but they’re trying to make Kelly look too “normal” – I think I’ve seen her outfit at Target, and her 90s bangs are M.I.A.

T: But really, was it because the real SBTB set has some kind of copyright on it because this re-creation is not the same.

M: Jessie says she won’t celebrate President’s Day until there is a woman president. And then she calls Slater a chauvinist. Ah, yes. Jessie Spano was probably the first introduction most millennials had to feminism, and she was also awful. Whenever a 20-something celebrity does that “I’m not a feminist but…” thing, I think: Oh. You’re thinking of Jessie Spano. We have Beyonce now. /90s history from C+S Cares.

Shut up, Spano. (Jessie’s ancestors WOULD tho)

T:  … so BZ is actually a good actor as Zack, but not as MPG. He belongs on the Disney Channel. Or on Degrassi. Which he was.

M: Fake Lark Voorhies mentions church – everyone know she’s a Jehovah’s Witness? If Lisa Turtle showed up my door with religious literature, I would actually let her in instead of pretending not to be home – but only so I could pepper her with questions about SBTB.

M: Fake Steve Buscemi is on the phone calling Seinfeld “too Jewish.”

We learn that SBTB’s popularity spread by word of mouth. At this time that meant ACTUAL WORDS out of HUMAN MOUTHS, not texting or tumbling or instafacing.  Remember when the only phone you had was attached to the wall, and you couldn’t stay on it too long because your stupid brother would pick up one of the other phones in the house and listen in?

T: Among those doing the whole grassroots thing were these girls:

M: Sometimes Fake Mario Lopez sounds like somebody doing an impression of Aziz Ansari.

T: We’re back to Cincinnati, which is weird because the flashback should’ve ended with this scene at the end… or at least that’s what a good script would do.

The girls run into teen fans while shopping, and one of them says she was inspired by Kelly to break up with her BF because she knew he was lying. This inspired the actresses to pitch more serious subjects – THERE’S NO HOPE WITH DOPE?!?!?

DD recalls Mario inviting rando fan girls to the stage for a tour then promptly making out with them, as DD creepily looks on. Honestly the worst part of this is that DD is a voyeur.

And THEN he has a daydream JUST LIKE IN THE SHOW. And his daydream makes him look like Stretch Armstrong in a hot tub with bikini-clad ladies. (5)

So this movie makes it look like MPG and Lark were dating for pretty much the entire series. I thought they all dated each other? I mean except for DD. He dated no one.

M: Fake Mark Paul Gosselaar tries to talk up birthdays to Fake Lark Voorhies. And all of us watching who know 2 things about Jehovah’s Witnesses are screaming “nooo!” like he’s walking alone down a dark hallway in a horror movie. Don’t do it, Fake Mark Paul!

T: LARK VORHEES WAS/IS A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS?

MPG and Elizabeth are having a heart-to-heart about his not-real GF Lark and it’s actually really touching. I hope this happened IRL. They’d be like Jessie and Zack BFFs for real!

MPG and TAT rehearsing their kissing scene. Bring on the LULZ

Um my DVR just did this really weird thing where it stopped after an hour of recording and played a promo for the movie then continued where it left off, but stopped recording after a minute? And then the final hour started as a “separate program”? IDK if that even makes sense but basically I just missed 15 minutes AND DOES TIME WARNER CABLE NOT UNDERSTAND THIS MOVIE IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME??

M: Seriously, did they buy all of Fake Tiffani’s clothes at Forever 21 last week, because that’s what it looks like.

T: “The networks didn’t kill us but the hormones might.” – something said in the promo by anon bc MY DVR CUT OFF

M: I’ll say it. If Lifetime sold the soundtrack to this movie, I’d buy it.

T: I’d buy anything with Bell Biv DeVoe’s ‘Poison’ on it.

T: I picked back up where everyone is sitting except Elizabeth and Zack and Mario calls DD dumb and he storms out? WHAT HAPPENNEDDDD?? WERE STEROIDS INVOLVED??

M: A teen tells Fake Screech “it gets easier” after he spits out whatever was in the flask he just swigged. “It gets easier” was the proto-version of “it gets better,” when teen were taught to drink to forget their troubles instead of waiting them out like they do now.

T: Some muscley Azn dude sitting outside the studio offers DD his first swig of vodka out of a flask.

M: Screech’s flask is back. Bad news. Alcohol is the gateway drug to substances like caffeine pills. By the way, caffeine pills look like a real blast on this show.

M:  Is this squirrelly 90s boy a secret ghost who shows up when Dustin Diamond needs a drink? How is he EVERYWHERE? I think I just guessed the plot twist, guys.

T: Really? Malibu Sands gets like a 2 minute scene? And it includes a crop top-wearing Slater and a crew who didn’t dress up for a movie set in 1991.

“Then I guess we’re just as fake as Zack and Kelly” Lark is PISSED that MPG was out photographed with TAT.

Guys, I’m pretty sure this movie theater DD is at where he beats a kid up for calling him Screech is like minutes from my apartment. Going tomorrow to see if there’s a marker commemorating the scene.

DD practicing his karate is only making me think of Ross Geller.

LOLZ @ TAT and MPG getting to go to Paris to promote the show while DD is forced to go to Spartanburg, South Carolina.

But really who is this Azn enabler that’s suddenly become DD’s BFF????

Peter tells DD that “IT WAS A BIG DEAL” that he was drunk at the fan signing, and again, because this is how my brain works, it reminded me of this

“I got wasted and I got laid!” DD stop. No one wants to hear this. especially your father. (6)

Cut to TAT and MPG having dinner in Paris and being offered wine. Does everyone become an alcoholic? JK MPG just spit his red wine back into the glass.

M: Fake Kapowski just called Saved By The Bell “Bell.” Just about every play I’ve been in has been reduced to a single word by the cast and crew, and you know what? It sounds stupid. If you have enough time to introduce yourself as “Tiffani Amber,” you have enough time to call it Saved By The Bell.

T: “What’s Saved by the Bell without Zack and Kelly?” – MPG. Um, Zack and Tori? Duh.

Speaking of Tori, is she gonna show up? I’d much rather it end like how I’ve been telling myself it ended, with Kelly and Jessie graduating with the rest of the gang.

DD describes the last season of SBTB “a mess” and described Leanna Creel as “tough girl Tori”. I imagine if Tori were real, she would be living in Provincetown with her wife of 10 years, one of the girl twins that was always an extra at Bayside. They ride bikes together.

Yeah, the Azn enabler is clearly just an actor trying to be on the show. And he recorded DD smoking pot, and threatens to blackmail him if he doesn’t get him a bigger part than an extra.


M: Fake Screech actually looks a lot like real Boy Mickey.

Fake Spano says that she’s up for a film role. SHOWGIRLS. Right?

Fake Screech is beating up his Booze Ghost. How about less of this subplot, more of that time they worked at Carosi’s resort with the white and teal uniforms? Or the time the lizard died? I’ve liked this movie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also been 2 hrs of missed opportunities.

T: Since TAT and Elizabeth decided to not renew their contracts for all of season 4, they “leave” and come back for the final episode where they all graduate. It’s actually really tender to see them all back together. Also tender: MPG and DD having a moment together where MPG apologizes for being a stupid kid. I appreciate this conversation was put in the movie, because it doesn’t make it look like they were all “against” DD.

Yeah, it’s got to be a trademark situation because I’m so annoyed the set doesn’t look anything like the real graduation set. Also they’re showing mini montages of each character before they cross the stage from that happened in the movie and it’s really not necessary.

GUYS IN THE 15 MINUTES MY DVR SKIPPED, I MISSED “I’M SO EXCITED” WTF

(7)

M: They’re all dressed for graduation, and I swear to God if they waste this opportunity to sing Friends Forever I will be livid. I mean unless Zack Attack still has the rights to it.

T: DD does one final Time-out and walks around describing what each actor did next. And shades the hell out of Elizabeth/Showgirls, IMO. Also, they’re not good at standing still because Elizabeth was just shaking her hand like it was a nervous tick.

Like this? Glad New Jessie Spano is also horrible.

Alas, it ends with an oblig throwing of the caps up in the air and an end credit card that reads “The End…ish” DD says SBTB: The College Years didn’t last long because no one wants to see them grow up – I disagree. I liked the College Years and S2G I still have my VHS of when I taped the SBTB: Wedding in Las Vegas TV special somewhere.

I feel gypped they didn’t sing Friends Forever, so just pretend the movie ended with this, and a good Casey Kasem (RIP) sign-off.

Saturday Spotlight: #OurOneFriendsWedding

HERE

We’ve made it almost all of the way through our 20s, which means we have also made it through literally dozens of summer weddings between us. In fact, by this point we can almost predict what’s going to happen at the ceremony and how the venue will be decorated before we get there. Enter our Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt!

If you were following along on our Twitter, you caught the wedding we went to last night – #OurOneFriendsWedding, because our friend was too classy for a hashtag. Or for mason jars, burlap, and chalkboard paint. And you should ask us about her dress! Or don’t, because we will tell you about it anyway. We’re obsessed. Hope you all are having as nice a wedding season as we are!

A few other wedding-related posts:

Renting The Runway: A Wedding Story

Wedding Season Survival Kit

Point/Counterpoint: Televised Weddings – Gauche or Glorious?

How To Talk To Your Mom About George Clooney’s Wedding

THERE

If you’ve ever been pinged to give the made of honor or best man toast, you know it can be scary (I think I winged mine, but I’m also that weirdo who likes public speaking). You can rest assured that there’s no way you can screw it up as badly as these people: Wedding Toasts: 10 Worst Wedding Toasts Ever.

Have any of you been to a themed wedding? Most of these sound frankly ridiculous: 23 Unconventional But Awesome Wedding Ideas.

Not sure what to wear to your next wedding? It might be best to start with what NOT to wear: Things To Never Wear To A Wedding.

Miley Cyrus as the VMAs host? It Could Be Worse

There’s nothing that makes us feel more old than the Teen Choice Awards, as we’ve discussed before. Now a few weeks after our faces have gone back to normal, we’re faced with the annual MTV Video Music Awards. Growing up, I always thought of the VMAs to be the edgiest out of all the awards shows – the one that if I showed up to school the next day and talked about it in 5th grade, I would feel super cool. That didn’t mean I actually was. Over the years, whether we care to admit it or not, the VMAs are a gem in the zeitgeist crown. Even if we don’t know some of the songs or artists nominated, there will ALWAYS be something to talk about around the watercooler (or conversational landmark of your choosing) the next day. This year, plenty of people have already been talking about the show, thanks to their choice of host:

Having not abused my eyes with this picture for a while, it looks absolutely ridiculous. What even is this world we’re living in. Beetlejuice and a grown-up nude Kewpie doll are grinding.

No it’s not Robin Thicke OR that foam finger. It’s obviously Miley Cyrus. Good ol’ Destiny Hope is returning to the VMAs stage two years after the performance that rocked her entire career. One year after she weirdly let her homeless friend accept an award on her behalf:

KATY AND SAM COORDINATED SIDE EYE FTW

But let’s be real here folks, no matter what you think of Miley, we can all agree that whatever she does is entertaining and will garner the attention of… everyone, whether it be positive or negative. I can’t wait to see what she’ll do at the VMAs, and I might be watching with my head down shaking it in disappointment, but I’m looking forward to what she’ll do. Also, brilliant move by MTV.

In saying this, there have been way worse hosts of the VMAs than I expect Miley to be, so let’s just thank MTV head honchos for at least making us want to tune in. Here are some questionable emecees MTV has hired over the years that pretty much make me long for Miley.

1984: Dan Aykroyd and Bette Midler

Ok, let’s attribute this choice to the fact it was the inaugural VMAs, and in the early era of MTV itself. Maybe they didn’t know what they were doing, or what kind of audience they were going for. I guess to be fair, Dan Aykroyd was popular at the time because of SNL and Ghostbusters, and Bette Midler was, more Bette Midler than she is now. But were they really the voice of the youth culture back then? Also, who decided to put these two together? Couldn’t have been one or the other? I have a lot of questions.

1986: MTV VJs: Downtown Julie Brown, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, Martha Quinn & Dweezil Zappa

Again, for perspective, MTV was a huge deal in the ’80s, primarily because there was no network like it ever before. MTV was a channel that wasn’t ABC/CBS/NBC, that didn’t show scripted programming, and dedicated entirely to showing visual representations of music heard on the radio. It was groundbreaking, and in those first few years, it was such a big deal that the first VJs subsequently became a big deal too. So again, it makes sense that these folks were the hosts. But come on, that must have been a bore for the regular viewers. Even spreading them out throughout the country – and London? – is mediocre at best. They see these people all the time. It wouldn’t hurt for some new blood in there. I imagine it was so boring that that’s why I couldn’t really find any good clips of them. Which is why I’m sharing this video of a young Whitney singing How Will I Know. There’s something so special about her just singing and dancing without anything else except the neon MTV logos behind her. It’s a  far cry from the superproduced performances we’ve seen over the past decade. ‘N Sync and Britney, much? (As a BSB fan, I admit this is one of the best in VMA history).

1993: Christian Slater

You’re reading this right. Christian Slater, movie star and 90s hunk/bad boy, hosted the Video Music Awards. At the time, he was the hottie from Heathers and on the verge of hitting rave reviews in True Romance, so he was more or less the Zac Efron type of the era. However, he still didn’t quite fit into host of the VMAs, as evidenced by this clip of his monologue. He’s going through it as if he’s reading a presentation in science class. Except making horrible jokes like, “How ’bout that Madonna? I didn’t want that number to end but I ran out of quarters backstage”, in reference to this performance. He also made a joke about the Moonman being able to see up Sharon Stone’s dress from the stage, so, I mean, obviously a solid night.

 

1994: Roseanne

I do not like Roseanne. I do not think she’s funny. I hated her sitcom. The above outfit is physically hurting my eyes. I can’t even get myself to watch this clip of her hosting, but I’m assuming it’s bad.

2008 and 2009 Russell Brand

It’s not that I think Russell Brand isn’t funny. Because sometimes he can be. But also he can be a lot annoying, and bottom line is that I don’t find him entertaining. But hey, who am I to say what the youth of the world finds entertaining these days? I’m just saying do we trust a man with that hair and who divorces someone over the phone???

 

Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt

It’s August, but Wedding Season isn’t over yet … because with the growing popularity of fall weddings, wedding season stretches from May to early November, with an additional, tiny bump around Christmas time. I’m in my  late 20s now, and it has been over 10 years since I have had a wedding-free summer. After you’ve been around the bridal block a few times, you start to notice that from your swanky sit-down affairs to your afternoon backyard bashes, most weddings really do have a lot in common. And after you’ve been around the bridal block more than a few times … especially if you’re single …. especially if like me, you cannot envision having a WEDDING-wedding even if you get married … you start to feel like you need some sort of a game, goal, or mission to keep the events feeling fresh.

Ladies and gentlemen, to that end I give you the Cookies + Sangria Wedding Guest Drinking Game/ Scavenger Hunt. EXTRAVAGANZA! 2015. Or whatever year you’re reading this.

1 point (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 Sip (Drinking Game)
  • Mason Jars
  • Burlap
  • In the days before the wedding, you go through that internal struggle of whether it would make more sense for you to take a cab to the wedding or just limit your drinking to a glass or two of wine way at the beginning. [Obviously if you come out in favor of driving to the event, you’re playing the scavenger hunt, so get your notepad ready to tally those points!]
  • Jordan almonds
  • A grandma
  • A photo announcement for everyone from your alma mater
  • A bride is tanned or toned beyond recognition
  • A bride is keeping her birth name, the couple will be hyphenating their name, the groom is taking the bride’s name, the couple is adopting a new name, or a same-sex couple does literally ANYTHING with regards to surnames … but guests or officiants can’t or won’t accept it (cards with wrong name on it, announcement of Mr. and Mrs. Dude’sName, etc).
2 Points (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 swig (Drinking Game)
  • Wedding party in matching Converse
  • The unity candle won’t light
  • Flower girls strewing something other than flowers
  • You are handed bubbles for when the couple leaves the ceremony
  • A guest misses a key point in the wedding because they are doing something on their phone
  • The first dance song was also the first dance at another wedding you went to
  • Canon in D
  • Wedding March
  • You’re in a barn
  • The ring does not go on easily
  • There’s a wedding coordinator or photographer who would be well-suited to some sort of upper-level commanding military position
  • Bridesmaid or groomsman speech mentions a fraternity or sorority
5 points (Scavenger Hunt) / 1 gulp (Drinking Game)
  • Edison lights
  • A man in white athletic socks
  • Actual tin cans tied to the car
  • Dollar dance
  • The couple does that thing where they make sand art instead of lighting a unity candle
  • One of those signs that tells you to pick a seat, not a side
  • Chalkboards or chalkboard paint
  • “Love is patient, love is kind…” etc.
  • It’s a destination wedding (beach resort, cruise, etc) and a non-wedding guest crashes accidentally. Or on purpose.
  • The wedding party takes photos in an awkward location, or one totally unrelated to the couple or event. (NB: now that the “photojournalistic,” candid, “creative” photo style is in, I always see people taking pics in the park and bridge near where I work by people who have, based on things I’ve heard them say, basically never been downtown in my city before).
  • The wedding party does a jumping picture
10 points (Scavenger Hunt) / 2 gulps (Drinking Game)
  • Superfluous Scrabble tiles incorporated into the decor
  • Another wedding guest with your first name
  • Bird decor
  • A ring bearer or flower girl who is actually a baby who can’t walk yet
  • A whole-hearted bouquet toss enthusiast
  • A bouquet toss conscientious objector
  • Unzipped fly on a guest
  • Something that you, personally, would deem an obvious Pinterest Fail
  • Signature cocktail
  • Photo booth
  • A camera whore is very obviously angling to be in the reception candids
  • Anything Disney (cake topper, dress, anything)
  • The table assignments are something “clever” or Pinterest-based, like photos of the couple at whatever age the table number was, or all based on different locations.
20 Points (Scavenger Hunt) / Chug (Drinking Game)
  • The flower girl can’t or won’t flower girl
  • The priest or officiant says something awkward (for instance: at our friend’s wedding, the priest talked about how wonderful it was that we were all  together to consummate the marriage, then he drew even more attention to it by trying to rephrase it for the next minute)
  • A non-bridal party person in an updo (like UPDO updo. Tendrils, hairspray … baby’s breath?)
  • Someone does a honk-y nose blow during the ceremony
  • Elderly people in love
  • It’s a religious wedding and the sermon/speech/whatever is about wives submitting to husbands
  • Someone in the bathroom who needs a sewing kit
  • Someone in the bathroom who has a sewing kit
  • A groom makes some sort of performance art piece out removing the garter
  • The first dance was choreographed
  • You’re single, and someone awkwardly tries to set you up with another single guest (it’s like when you were 12 at your dad’s company picnic, and your parents tried to make you hang out with another kid because of the great uniting factor of you both being in seventh grade, even though that doesn’t mean you have anything else in common).
  • Self-written vows
  • Unzipped fly on a member of the wedding party
50 points (Scavenger Hunt) / Finish Your Drink (Drinking Game)

  • Hay bales are involved in any capacity
  • The entrances to the reception were choreographed
  • A bride has separate ceremony and reception dresses
  • RHYMING vows
  • They make you sit on the hay bales
  • A direction sign pointing the way to food, dancing, custom candy table, etc
  • Custom candy table
  • Two women in the same dress (not in the bridal party)]
  • There’s a theme. Not a color scheme, but a THEME. Like Civil War.
  • An unassuming person with surprisingly awesome dance moves
  • A non-bridesmaid who accidentally wore almost the same dress as the bridesmaids
  • There’s another couple with the same, or almost the same, wedding hashtag that weekend
  • Crying bride (happy tears)
  • Custom cake topper
  • Cake smash. You’re gonna need that drink.
  • An ex-spouse of the couple is present
100 points (Scavenger Hunt) / New Drink (Drinking Game)
  • A non-bride is wearing white (flower girl doesn’t count)
  • The couple’s pet(s) are involved in the ceremony
  • An awkward bouquet/ garter combo (relatives, exes, massive age gap … I have been avoiding the bouquet toss my whole life because even as a little kid I realized that hey, if I catch this thing I don’t want, a stranger is going to have to put an undergarment on my leg??)
  • Somebody has an objection during the ceremony
  • Crying bride (non-happy tears)
  • One of the spouses serenades the other
  • There’s choreography when the bridal party and couple go down the aisle.
  • Someone surprises the couple with a performance that they don’t know about.

 

Pop Culture Extra Credit: College Edition

A couple months ago, my alma mater, Emerson College, announced that starting in the Fall of 2016, there will be a new major available to students – a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Comedic Arts, AKA a degree in comedy. Emerson is a communication and arts school where being a musical theatre major doesn’t make you a nerd and Quidditch is the top sport. We’re known for having unusual or quirky things that you wouldn’t find at a “normal” college. When I first heard the news, I thought, ‘Oh, that makes sense’. The school already offers classes on things like puppetry and “Queer TV After Ellen Came Out”, so yeah, a comedy major sounds about right.

However, it was a much bigger question mark to the rest of the world who went to schools that had classes like Accounting and football teams. Emerson even got a mention from Seth Meyers who suggested students can “just take your tuition money and burn it in front of your parents.” Fair.

So with kids heading back to college over the next few weeks, I thought that there must be other schools out there that offer odd, or pop culture-centric classes. Luckily, the American educational system did not let me down. Here are just a few courses you can take right now – did you guys take any weird classes in college?

Emerson College {Boston, MA}

TV Creators: Understanding the Whedonesque

Description:

This course will use the career of Joss Whedon to introduce students to the variety of positions in the entertainment industry and their potential for fulfilling and creative work… By examining his work at various stages, students will better understand auteur theory, modern industrial entertainment production, and artistic production across media. Works covered include: Roseanne, Alien: Resurrection, Buffy the Vampire Slayer as a film and TV series, Angel, Firefly and Serenity, Dollhouse, The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing, Buffy: Season Eight, and Astonishing X-Men.

Class Notes:

Surprisingly enough, I’m not too familiar with the Whedonverse. The closest I’ve ever gotten is watching Dr. Horrible multiple times over. Back in my day, this class was specifically about dissecting Buffy, and not any of Joss Whedon’s other works. My friend (who shall not be named because in her words, ‘I have a reputation to uphold’) took the Buffy class and had this to say about it: “12-year-old me couldn’t believe she was watching one of her favorite shows in class to achieve a real college degree, but it was surprisingly one of the most demanding classes (work load wise) that I have ever taken.” As I think we’re going to find with the rest of these courses, it may sound silly at first, but it’s probably really interesting and a lot of work.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology {Cambridge, MA}

Topics in Comparative Media: American Pro Wrestling

well this is frightening

Description:

This class will explore the cultural history and media industry surrounding the masculine drama of professional wrestling. Beginning with wrestling’s roots in sport and carnival, the class examines how new technologies and changes in the television industry led to evolution for pro wrestling style and promotion and how shifts in wrestling characters demonstrate changes in the depiction of American masculinity. The class will move chronologically in an examination of how wrestling characters and performances have changed, focusing particularly on the 1950s to the present. Students may have previous knowledge of wrestling but are not required to, nor are they required to be a fan (although it is certainly not discouraged, either).

Class Notes:

Exactly what major is this class fulfilling? I particularly like the disclaimer at the end. ‘You don’t have to be a fan of WWE… except you should probably be if you’re spending money on this class.”

Rutgers University {New Jersey}

Feminist Perspectives: Politicizing Beyoncé

Description:

Calling all the single ladies: this exploration into Queen Bey’s influence on feminism, race, gender, and culture helps students become more aware of the way in which pop culture shapes society. Most classes that are named for celebrities deal with sociologies of fame or psychologies of human behavior, but Kevin Allred’s version zeroes in on politics. By juxtaposing Beyoncé’s song lyrics with readings by distinguished black leaders like Sojourner Truth and Octavia Butler, students ask and attempt to answer the question, “Can Beyoncé’s music be seen as a blueprint for progressive social change?” Yet the more appropriate question may be: Who runs the world? Beyoncé.

Class Notes:

Sign. Me. Up. The person who wrote this description is clearly a member of the BeyHive, so that’s already a plus. But like previously mentioned, this class sounds hard as shiiiit. But that’s what you get when you break down the genius that is Queen B.

Georgia Regents College {Augusta, Georgia}

Good Kids, Mad Cities

Description:

Taking its name from Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 album, this course will examine the role of urban living on the development of young people. In Kendrick’s case, “the streets sure to release the worst side of my best” (Lamar 58). By studying and analyzing various literature, films, and K. Dot’s album, we will consider what effects our characters’ surroundings have on who they become as adults. The cities we will be visiting, in our imaginations, are Dublin, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Class Notes:

This class should be offered at more colleges, TBH.

Middlebury College {Middlebury, Vermont}

Urban America & Serial Television: Watching The Wire

Description:

Frequently hailed as a masterpiece of American television, The Wire shines a light on urban decay in contemporary America, creating a dramatic portrait of Baltimore’s police, drug trade, shipping docks, city hall, public schools, and newspapers over five serialized seasons. In this course, we will watch and discuss all of this remarkable-and remarkably entertaining-series, and place it within the dual contexts of contemporary American society and the aesthetics of television. This is a time-intensive course with a focus on close viewing and discussion, and opportunities for critical analysis and research about the show’s social contexts and aesthetic practices.

Class Notes:

I would take this class for one reason, the same one reason I watch the entirety of The Wire in the first place: Mr. Idris Elba. God bless.

Colorado College {Colorado Springs, Colorado}

Queen Bees, WannaBees, and Mean Girls

Description:

Queen Bees, WannaBees, and Mean Girls explores the means and motives behind why women seek authority and the actions they are willing to take in order to hold onto it. Students will examine this concept through the use of literary works and movies, such as the 2004 film Mean Girls.

Class Notes:

Temporarily ignoring the fact that first sentence makes it seem like this class is slightly sexist, it would be interesting to take a look into this culture of mean girls. And obviously, the class would have to be held on Wednesdays.

American University {Washington, D.C.}

Contemporary American Culture: Hunger Games

Description:

The Hunger Games trilogy is a publishing phenomenon that has dramatically impacted American popular culture. Using the series as a case study, this course examines the interplay of class, politics, ethics, and marketing. Topics covered include oppression, feminism, food deserts, rebellion, the publishing industry, and social media marketing. 

Class Notes:

Hunger Games isn’t just for kids, y’all. I also read “food deserts” as “food desserts” and immediately started to think what significance desserts had in the books, scouring my brain to remember Katniss’ fave food – then I realized it said “deserts” as in, the lack of food pretty much everywhere besides the Capitol. The Hunger Game isn’t just for kids, y’all.

Georgetown University {Washington, D.C.}

Philosophy and Star Trek

Description:

Star Trek is very philosophical. What better way, then, to do philosophy, but to watch Star Trek, read philosophy and hash it all out in class? That’s the plan. This course will center on topics in metaphysics that come up again and again in Star Trek. In conjunction with watching Star Trek, we will read excerpts from the writings of great philosophers, extract key concepts and arguments and then analyze those arguments. Questions we will wrestle with include:

I. Is time travel possible? Could you go back and kill your grandmother? What is time?
II. What is the relation between your mind and your brain–are they separate items or identical? Can persons survive death? Could a machine someday think? Is Data a person?
III. What is a person? Must you have the same body to be you? Same memories? When do we have one person, and when do we have two (think of the episodes where people “split” or “fuse”).
IV. Do you have free will, or are you determined by the laws of nature to do exactly what you wind up doing (while believing you have free will)? Or both? What is freewill?

Class Notes:

This description is VERY thorough. Not only that, but seems questionable. For instance, why is one of the questions, “Could you go back and kill your grandmother?”. First of all, it should be “Would”. Second of all, what? Is this a plot point in the Star Trek series? If yes, WHY? Also, “What is a person?” ??? This could be a very deep and depressing conversation I personally wouldn’t want to have in a classroom setting.

Georgia State University {Atlanta, Georgia}

American Poetry: Kanye vs. Everybody

kanye vs

Description:

According to the syllabus, Kanye makes for a useful lens through which to “investigate the continuous development of African American poetry and poetics—the uses of language and literature to represent blackness and Americanness in particular—observing shifting meanings in and of the text with important considerations of race, class, gender, and sexuality.” Throughout the semester, students decode Kanye’s work and interviews, which Dr. Heath believes help draw a line from the Harlem Renaissance to the black nationalist era to current-day hip-hop.

Class Notes:

Can’t tell if Kanye would love this course or disagree with it so much he’ll interrupt during class to say just how much he hates it. Is that a dated reference? Him and TSwift are all good now? Ok.

University at Buffalo {Buffalo, New York}

Breaking Down “Breaking Bad”

Description:

“Breaking Bad” was one of the most spectacular narrative achievements in television. Its five seasons comprised some 60 hours of a single narrative arc, something no film or television program (cable or commercial) has ever accomplished… In this seminar, we’ll take a close look at all the components of the series; we’ll talk about what was done, how it was done, why it worked. There is one prerequisite: that members of the seminar have seen the series before the seminar’s first meeting. We’re going to be studying it, not greeting it. We’ll look at some segments during the semester, but only so we can deconstruct the work. I’ll expect participants to do class presentations on different aspects of the epic, and a term paper on a topic of their choice.

Class Notes:

Unlike the American wrestling course, watching the series IS a pre req to being in this class. Luckily, most people on this planet have watched Breaking Bad. There’s gotta be something meta about teaching a class about a show that features a chemistry teacher who isn’t the greatest teacher.

University of California, Berkeley {Berkeley, California}

Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular ‘Logic’ on TV Judge Shows”

Description:

TV “Judge” shows have become extremely popular in the last 3-5 years. A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by the litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used over and over again. For example, when asked “Did you hit the plaintiff?” respondents often say, “If I woulda hit him, he’d be dead!” This reply avoids answering “yes” or “no” by presenting a perverted form of the logical strategy called “a fortiori” argument “from the stronger” in Latin. The seminar will be concerned with identifying such apparently popular logical fallacies on “Judge Judy” and “The People’s Court”and discussing why such strategies are so widespread. It is NOT a course about law or “legal reasoning” Students who are interested in logic, argument, TV, and American popular culture will probably be interested in this course. I emphasize that it is NOT about the application of law or the operations of the court system in general.

Class Notes:

As the lawyer of this Cookies + Sangria duo, I’m sure Molly can support or oppose this much better than I can, but in theory, this class actually sounds more interesting than it should? Although I hate watching court show, I’m sure there’s a psychology to it that can be studied. Or just a reminder of how stupid Americans can be.

 

Achy Breaky Heart: I Just Don’t Think I Understand

It’s one of those disjointed childhood memories where all I can remember is an image and a feeling. I was standing in front of my family’s tall TV cabinet watching Billy Ray Cyrus performing Achy Breaky Heart on some awards show or late-night program. I knew that the song was really popular, and the crowd was going crazy, but all I could think was “man, I DO NOT get this.” Obviously my internal narrator hasn’t changed much: I was 5 when Achy Breaky Heart came out, I’m 28 now, and I still do not get it. But on this, the 54th anniversary of Billy Ray Cyrus’s birth, I’m at least going to try to explain it.

The thing with Achy Breaky Heart is that it wasn’t just a pop song: it was a phenomenon. I can’t think of a song in recent memory that is similar. Call Me Maybe, maybe? Single Ladies? It tapped into, and defined, the country craze of the early ’90s. You know how now country artists look like slightly glitzier, more polished versions of regular musicians? And most of their songs sound like regular pop songs, save a guitar intro or two (or, if you’re really unlucky, that country guy talk-singing that sounds a bit like the “rap” music on educational tape cassettes in the early ’90s about, like, the solar system). That’s not quite where we were in 1992. For one thing, this was peak Rural Mullet* era, and Billy Ray was leading the brigade.

*The Rural Mullet is not to be confused with the Rock Mullet of the ’80s or the Fashion Mullet of the 2000s.

So we’re talking super-short, like military-short top-hair, and then extra long spiral curled back-hair. This was a MULLET. Shall we have another?

There you go. A nice profile shot, where you can really see the transition from short to long. See, the feathery 80s mullets tried to go for a seemless business-to-party experience, but this was like two independent haircuts coexisting on one head. It was like if you turned a corner in your corporate workplace and were suddenly at a kegger.

The early ’90s country fad was less Keith Urban, Pedicured Cowboy and more 10 gallon hat-ish. Also, buckles. Hefty buckles. If you can answer the question “could I work on my car in this ?” in the affirmative, then an early ’90s country artist could wear it.And yet, layered earthy necklaces weren’t out of place, either.If Billy Ray could simultaneously sport chest hair, a cowboy jacket, denim, and multiple necklaces … well, be still our achy breaky hearts.But it wasn’t just that Achy Breaky typified how country boys dressed in the early ’90s, it also controlled how a generation of moms danced (technically people of all life stages and genders, but primarily moms for some reason). The line dancing craze was the biggest Achy Breaky-related cultural phenomenon other than Miley Cyrus. I definitely remember watching a line dancing show that aired regularly on television. Line dancing was inexplicably popular in malls. Maybe the show was filmed in a mall? And maybe malls were more of a cultural meeting place in the 90s, because I feel like people went to malls a lot more then, just as a general activity.

One thing that I’ve observed at weddings and gatherings: white people, in particular, love dances where you don’t have to figure out what to do. So it is no surprise that white people across the nation flocked to line dancing classes (technically people of all backgrounds and ethnicities, but primarily white people for some reason). The Achy Breaky was the must-know dance of the early ’90s, like the Lindy Hop and the Charleston in ages past.

Here, you can learn, too:

I definitely remember my mom pining for line dancing classes – maybe she still does. I should check on that because her birthday and Christmas are coming up.

I’ve avoided it so far, but we need to talk about Achy Breaky Heart, the song. Listen if you dare: this will be stuck in your head for days.

If you couldn’t bear to listen, I can’t blame you. It’s about a man who just went through a breakup. He tells his ex all the things she can do, but what she CANNOT do is tell his heart (his achy, breaky heart). Okay. But most of the things he says she can do are kind of ridiculous. Billy Ray is apparently fine with her doing the following:

  • Burning his clothes while he’s gone
  • Tell his lips to tell his fingertips not to reach for her. But why do his lips tell his fingertips anything? Is he like my niece, who learns about things by trying to eat them? (She’s fine, she’s a baby, it’s normal.) Or like Helen Keller putting her hands to Annie Sullivan’s mouth to feel the words? (I might be getting that wrong.)
  • Tell her dog to bite his leg. WHY? That isn’t okay.
  • Tell his eyes to watch out for his mind (It might be walking out on me today). I don’t think Billy Ray knows how body parts work?

Today, Billy Ray Cyrus is 54 years old. But 23 years ago, he was the 31-year-old king of country, creating a musical, fashion, and dance craze that swept the nation off its achy breaky feet. I won’t tell his heart – his achy, breaky heart – but I just don’t think I understand.

Questions, Comments, and Concerns: The Unauthorized Full House Story

Another day, another unauthorized story of a 90s TV show from those fine folks at the Lifetime network. This past weekend it was all about Full House, that TGIF (and TBS/WGN/ABC Family/Nick at Nite) favorite that was a staple in our adolescence. We grew up with the Tanners-Katsopolis-Gladstone clan in our living rooms as we watched them grow up in theirs. We saw Rigby the Rhino, Tommy Page, the Beach Boys and even Little Richard come through the doors, and now, we get to see what really went down behind the facade of the Full House. In theory, that is.

Lifetime describes the movie as “the rise of the cast of one of America’s most beloved family sitcoms and the pressures they faced in balancing their television personas with their real lives”. But according to the FH cast, the movie wasn’t exactly how it went down, and to be honest, I’m more inclined to believe them.

Why? I had a lot of things going through my mind while watching it, so if you tuned in or even if you didn’t (probably better that you didn’t), let’s discuss The Unauthorized Full House Story

Question: Why is the VERY first shot of this movie a bush?

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Comment: We start in 1987, when they shoot the pilot, but I’m distracted because the fake Full House set looks like Becky’s house on the real Full House.

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Comment: The cameramen are laughing at the show. While it’s filming. This isn’t how television works.

Comment: We flashback to 1985 for origin stories, starting off with Bob Saget, who is doing stand up and taking about tampons. He sounds like Seinfeld shouting, ‘What’s the deal with tampons?!’

Question: Bob and Dave knew each other before the show? The world of standup comedy is smaller than you think, so it makes sense these two knew each other before FH.

Question: Dave Coulier was almost on Saturday Night Live? Really, how did I not know this? Apparently he was hired then Lorne and co. were like JK, you’re too similar to Dana Carvey. Ok… But tbh, he seems like a better fit for Full House than sketch comedy.

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Comment: John Stamos is played by Justin Gaston. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he used to date Miley Cyrus. Now he’s playing John Stamos playing Uncle Jesse in a Lifetime movie. Miley is hosting the VMAs on Sunday.

Concern: Bob’s wife tells him she’s pregnant. He says he’s happy about this. His face says otherwise.

actual snapshot of fake bob saget

Comment: Creator Jeff Franklin’s first pitch to ABC was a show called House of Comics (three men/comedians living in a house together, shenans ensue).

“The Cosby Show is doing so well. So the network really wants more of a family show.” Exec who clearly doesn’t know the shit that goes down with Jell-o man in 2015.

After the exec says that quote ^^ Jeff makes up a new show on the spot, which is the plot of Full House. And to think, Full House is all kind of Billy Cosby’s doing. ::insert joke and side eye here::

Comment: Candice Cameron, was only known as Kirk cameron’s little sister at the time. When she went in to audition for Deej, she overhears the casitng director say she was “only okay”. However Candace later redeems herself after a pep talk from her stage mom, and eventually gets the part. Being Kirk Cameron’s sister didn’t always help, folks.

Concern: Paul Reiser was the first choice for Danny Tanner, but he was busy with My Two Dads. What’s that show you ask? Well it’s where the girl from Step by Step is adopted and raised by the dude from Mad About You and straight George Michael. It only last three seasons, so is Paul Reiser upset? Probably not. He went on to Mad About You.

Question: John was already a star. At least with the daytime mom crowd, and he was getting hounded by crazy General Hospital fans. By the time he was approached by Jeff about FH, John was ready to find a new demographic. He was so eager about the new gig that he told Jeff the vision he had for “Uncle Adam” – he pitched that Elvis had a twin brother whose name was Jesse and died at childbirth, and he wanted to be Jesse. Uncle Adam became Uncle Jesse. I still don’t get why he wanted to paid tribute to Elvis’ dead brother?

Concern: MK & A just happened to be sitting in the waiting room of the casting office because their mom’s friend took her kids to the audition. How PISSED is that friend now?

Question: John Posey was originally cast as Danny, because Bob wanted another job on CBS or something. The pilot was shot with this Posey dude. The network picked up the show w Posey and Jeff Franklin (EP) wanted to reshoot the pilot w Danny. This is what one in the biz calls a “Shitshow.” More importantly, where is this footage with Posey as Danny Tanner???

Concern: Justin Gaston is like, significantly younger than the guys who play Bob and Dave.

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Comment: The dude who plays Bob is like *almost* nailing the real Bob Saget’s voice to a point, however it also sounds like he has a frog in his throat the entire time.

Question: Why does the guy who plays Bob have more chemistry with his sister than his wife?

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His sis convinces Bob he needs to bond with his co-stars

“If looked like him (John) I’d never get out of the shower.” – Bob

“So start there” – Sis

“In the shower with Stamos? – Bob

“No, you know what I mean” – Sis

Cue: boys’ trip to Vegas.

Comment: It’s interesting that they keep portraying Bob as a serial monogamist, seeing as how he decided to play blackjack instead of hanging out with John, Dave, and three hot ladies in Sin City. However, back on set, he’s still got a pottymouth and basically told Jodie Sweetin she hopefully won’t grow up to be a stripper. I mean, good advice, to be fair. He even pitched to Jeff that Danny get OCD or terets (so he can curse). The Olsens twins and Cameron’s moms hate this about him and decide to talk to Jeff about it.

Question: Did Dave Coulier really single-handedly convince MK&A’s  mom to stay with the show? She is basically juggling being a stage mom all by herself since her husband is not in sight, but Dave assures her everyone can help raise them, and even offer to help find them a nanny, just so they don’t leave the show.

Comment: Dave farts during tender moment about season 2 pickup. This I can believe.

Question: WAIT JOHN AND LORI DATED ‘A FEW TIMES’ BEFORE SHE JOINED THE SHOW??

“We went on a date to Disneyland before we were both married. In real life, when we were 18, 19 years old… No disrespect to her family and her husband now, I would say that she could be the one that got away. She’s one of my dearest friends, and that’s good enough. I really do adore her.” Real Stamos saying OTP could’ve been real {x}

Question: Why is Danny surprised when he gets fan mail dumped on his person? Like, he’s shocked that the bag of fan mail dumped on his person is all for him and not for the Olsen twins.

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Concern: Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler) runs into the on-set classroom to tell Candace she got upped to a series regular, and Jodie Sweetin looks on at their friendship longingly and a lil jeals. I feel like maybe this would’ve been true on a nine-year-old kid level, but not for realsies.

Comment: The guys find out MK&A are the most popular stars from the show, so Dave lit’rally runs to Jeff’s office so he can campaign for more scenes. Bob and John look at each other and say, “Should we tell him the EPs office is that way?”, in a way that easily could’ve been in the real Full House – it was that corny.

Question: Because MK&A were getting popular by the second, their parents decide to negotiate their contract to get more money. They ask to DOUBLE their salary. The twins are THREE YEARS OLD. Aren’t the other cast members a lil pissed about this??

Comment: Network execs are hoping to tie-in more of their programming with the super popular Full House by asking Bob to host a new show called America’s Funniest Home Videos. His response: “Americas Funniest Home Videos? That seems ever more sophmoric than Full House. Just kidding, that’s not possible.” They are really making it look like Bob had so much disdain for the show.

Question: Did John really set up a rehearsal space for his band in the.. green room on the FH set? And were there actual fam jam sessions

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Question: They keep giving a behind the scenes look at Bob’s marriage with him juggling a marriage (that’s clearly disintegrating), three kids and two jobs setting it up for disaster. Also how does this effect the show?

Concern: If this is how people gathered to watch TGIF in 1990, I really missed out.

The book on the coffee table, The Century, was published in 1998. Full House ended in 1995.

Comment: Instead of a talking woodchuck Joey has a talking dog.

Did somebody say…. BONES? (idk, i’m not good with dog jokes)

Comment: Dave announces he’s engaged to some chick, and for some reason, John mystericously jealous about this.

Concern: Candace goes crazy looking for Lori because she got the new script and found out she has to have her first onscreen kiss. Lori enlists “Stamos” to show Candace how to kiss. I feel weird about this.

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Question: Were John Stamos and Paula Abdul a tight enough couple that they almost got married? I always forget they dated, but per the movie, Stamos says, “I really like Paula I think she might be the one.”

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Except she wasn’t because in the next scene he says they break up. Wah wah.

Comment: Execs see Bob molesting a mannequin on the closed circuit video feed of the set, so Jeff chastises him for being inappropriate. Again with the ‘Bob Saget was an overly dirty man on a set about pure family values’.

Concern: Candace has a heart to heart with John after seeing an article in a tabloid that says she’s chubby. Stamos gives her advice to not let it bother her. She says, “My brother thinks I need to be closer to God.”

if you don’t get this picture, read this immediately

Question: WHY IS THERE NO COMET??? I just realized no dog has come on my screen yet!

Concern: I feel really bad for Dave, who says, “The truth is I’m not so good at being a grown up,” a notion we all can relate to. He reveals he’s getting divorced and his sister just died, so things aren’t going swell.

“Wouldn’t it be great if real life was more like Full House? No matter how big your problem is, you knew that everything was going to be okay?”

“And anything could be solved with a few bowls of ice cream and some hugs.”

Concern: Candace starts going to public school in ’93 AND SHE IS A NEW ACTRESS. Also, the clothes from “1993” are so “2015”.

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Question: Did Stamos, Bob and Dave really have whipped cream battles backstage? And if they didn’t, was this really the worst thing they could do? It’s like they’re 6th graders getting reprimanded at recess.

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Comment: Earlier in the movie, Bob’s sister tells him that their mom has some disease, but now it turns out that his sister has scleroderma. She later passes away and now I feel like an ass for saying they flirted earlier. All of the adult FH cast shows up to her funeral, and it’s nice to see them all supporting each other.

Question: Jeff Franklin created Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper? Because of his success with the show, he left Full House in order to get Mark Curry and co. off the ground. Jeff Franklin is responsible for your TGIF memories.

Comment: I’m so over this Bob/wife drama, especially because I know how it ends. There’s more about this than Jodie Sweetin.

Comment: We’re suddenly backstage at a fashion show where Dave and John are guests and John literally has a meet cute with Rebecca Romijn (I still call you last name Stamos).

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Concern: Lori gets divorced right as John starts dating Rebecca. Talk about bad timing. Perhaps they would have actually made a good couple?

Comment: The whole cast is gathered in a room and told the show is cancelled and they’re filming the last one next week. Jodie has a difficult time accepting this. This is really her only storyline beside being jealous of Candace/Andrea friendship.

“Now I’m even losing my make believe husband.” Lori about John. Too soon?

Question: WHO are the people in this audience?

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Comment: The last scene is very similar to the final scene of the series, in which Deej is off to her prom without a date but Kimmy surprises her by inviting Steve, who we see for the first time. Also for the first time: Nicky and Alex. Not seen: Michelle’s concussion where she forgets everything and confronts her other self AKA screen time for both MK and A.

“See somehow everything has a way of working out.”

“As long as we stick together.”

‘The way we always do.” META, MUCH?

Concern: We cut to two years later, and we’re back to seeing Bob doing standup. He overhears a woman say “It makes me feel gross. That’s Danny Tanner up there saying those horrible things!” You know what makes me feel gross? This woman’s inability to separate actor from character. She’s overreacting.

Comment: We see that John went on to star in a Broadway revival of How To Succeed… and he’s super in love with Rebecca Romijn, Bob gets a divorce (obvi), and Dave hosts a charity hockey game. Candace and Lori (who look the same age, BTW) visit Dave in the locker room, where he introduces Candace to Russian hockey player and her future husband Val, who lrearned Rnglish watching Full House in Russia… So their relationship started because he was a fanboy?

Concern: Candace and Val get married a year after FH ends, and all the cast goes to her wedding. Dave sits next to this woman:

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Candace meets and greets every. single. member. of the cast as if she’s a pop star backstage and meeting her fans and I literally say outloud  I HATE THIS.

Comment: Bob gives a speech at Candace’s wedding, and talks about the influence Danny Tanner had on his life.

“The best thing about Danny was that he knew what was important. He surrounded himself with lots of poeple he loved…”

“With ice cream and so many hugs!”

“As you start your new family, just know wherever you go – wherever any of us go – we’ll always have this family (John aside: that’s true). The one we made.” ::Dave farts::

Cue: Follow You Down. No, seriously, Follow You Down started playing in the background.

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Concern: THERE IS A VOICE OVER. I THINK IT’S DAVE? THERE IS A VOICE OVER THAT MIGHT BE DAVE PLAYED OVER A MONTAGE OF WHAT WE’VE SEEN SO FAR AND THE FH BILLBOARD BEING TAKEN DOWN.

“We had such good memories… and to this day, when one of deals with hard times, or one of the many challenges that life puts in front of us, the other ones do whatever they can to help out. You know, it’s pretty incredible after all these years we all remain close and get together often  – like the family we are.”

This actually faded into a pink background and FH graphic.