Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blogger is just so five years ago, don't you think?

I was having a quarterlife crisis in anticipation of my 25th birthday and decided to cope by switching to a trendier blogging platform.

Read my new blog, please. It's much shinier than this stupid old thing. There's a picture of me in a bikini, if that sounds at all enticing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Apparently I have more things to say about The Hills.

I guess it makes sense that the end of The Hills would be similar to the end of The O.C., if you lump it together with Laguna Beach as a single entity. They both lose their leading ladies, then the focus bounces around erratically for a while, with a final season of balls to the wall insanity that introduces an entirely new tone. I loved the fourth season of The O.C. for being so campy and self-referential. I'll be much more enthusiastic about a similarly self-aware and farcical final season of The Hills, as opposed to watching it continue to drift aimlessly toward oblivion.

However, revolutionary as it may be, I'm not sure I can stomach the turn Heidi and Spencer have taken toward developing a new reality genre: horror docu-soap. I feel guilty for comparing Heidi to Frankenstein's monster back when it felt moderately insightful, rather than obvious and cruel. It looks like Speidi's descending trajectory may be fascinatingly tragic, which is tragic, but, you know, fascinating.

Oh, also, The City is garbage but I love Erin and she should have her own show.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My new favorite reality show about the trashiness of the state in which I grew up.

The New York Times thinks Jerseylicious would be "mildly entertaining if it weren't so blatantly trying to horn in on the now-faded "Jersey" mania of [Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey]."

My disagreement with this critique is based on the belief that relishing in the absurdity and unabashed trashiness of some New Jersey denizens is not, as the Times asserts, a "tired shtick," "flogged over and over again by lazy television executives." I contend that New Jersey is, in fact, deeply hilarious and sociologically fascinating, and that it is logical, appropriate, and necessary for television executives to capitalize on this wellspring of entertainment potential.

While I certainly appreciate the entertainment value provided by Jersey Shore and Real Housewives of New Jersey, these two programs barely scratch the surface of what New Jersey has to offer. Only one member of the Jersey Shore cast (Sammi, ugh) is actually from New Jersey. (Pauly D is from Rhode Island and the rest live in New York.) And while Real Housewives of New Jersey is amazing, it provides a limited glimpse at the range of outrageous personalities one is likely to encounter in the Garden State.

Jerseylicious takes place at Gatsby Salon on Route 22 in Green Brooke, New Jersey. When I was in high school, and occasionally during the summers when I was in college, I worked as a receptionist at Fine Lines & Artistic Nails, in Chatham, New Jersey, a mere sixteen miles from Gatsby Salon. So naturally, I was intrigued by the concept of the show, but I didn't necessarily have high expectations for a "comedy docu-soap" on the Style Network. But, I swear to you guys, it is seriously compelling. Until the most recent episode, I was uncertain as to whether the show's appeal would translate to wider audiences that lack a thorough understanding of regional culture and customs, and as such, I was hesitant to blog about it. Now, though, I can confidently endorse Jerseylicious.

What brought on this onslaught of enthusiasm, you might ask? Well, last night, one of my television yearnings was fulfilled when two of the most stereotypically Jersey girls I have ever seen received a rather harsh makeunder from Edward Tricomi himself at Warren-Tricomi Salon in Manhattan. I could attempt to describe it, but no matter how many superlatives I used, I'm not sure that you'd completely believe me. So I have to show you:

That is just one of the more satisfying segments of last night's episode, which was almost entirely focused on the deconstruction of these girls' self-caricaturization.

In anticipation of your arguments, I will point out that, yes Olivia bears a strong similarity to Jersey Shore's Snooki. HOWEVER, Snooki, amusing and endearing as she is, is from MARLBORO, New York. In other words, not anywhere near New Jersey! Whereas Olivia is a real deal Jersey girl, through and through. Jersey Shore may have aired first, but really, Snooki is biting Olivia's style (indirectly, obvs).

Although Jerseylicious is by no means a comprehensive examination of what it means to be, well, Jerseylicious, it does uncover a few more layers of the amazingness that is New Jersey.

P.S. Just for the record, at this point in my life I would sooner cut my own hair than go to any salon in New Jersey, because I am a humongous snob.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dear diary.

Occasionally, I find it necessary to attempt to interact with other human beings without relying on my extrovert boyfriend as a social navigator and small talk safety net. My best friend Jess is currently on a business trip in Los Angeles, and she invited me to fly down for the weekend to partake of her free hotel room at the Viceroy in Santa Monica. In June, we went to Cameo Bar at the Viceroy for my birthday, because I really wanted to lounge amongst Kelly Wearstler's decor. And the space did feel as fun and sexy and glamorous as I imagined it would. I was so excited to spend a few nights there for free, but seeing the space in daylight seriously dampened my enthusiasm. It's still cool and fun, but everything looks much cheaper and crappier and tackier when you can actually see it clearly. On Thursday night we had happy hour drinks at Cameo Bar with our friend Trey, and then dinner at Dominick's with Jess's coworkers. Everyone ordered the chicken, which was highly recommended, and did in fact turn out to be pretty great. The appetizers and cocktails were also good. And the ambiance was nice on the back patio, with exposed brick walls covered in foliage, and a fireplace. On Friday, while Jess was working, I walked around Santa Monica all morning, bought a pair of knit shorts from American Apparel because I had forgotten to pack pajamas, and spent the afternoon reading by the pool at the Viceroy, wearing a hooded sweatshirt over my bikini because it was so breezy and overcast. At night, Jess and I had dinner at Ma'Kai Lounge. The food was not bad, and from the patio we could see the sun setting over the ocean. But the service was kind of weird. The waitstaff seemed confused about the table numbers, and throughout the meal, they kept trying to give us various things that we hadn't ordered. Also, the waiter, who was kind of a ridiculous bimbo, made a comment about Jersey Shore when he checked Jess's ID, and asked if she gets that all the time, and we both sort of felt pissy at him after that. It was fine, though. I can never really be unhappy as long as I have edamame to nibble. After dinner we wandered up and down the Third Street Promenade, on a quest for black ballet flats for Jess. Once she found a pair she liked, we went to Bar Chloe, where the bartender told us all about her problems finding a boyfriend who won't insist on hanging out more than one night a week, and served us sugary, weak cocktails. Trey met up with us after a while and then so did my friend Ken and his boyfriend Saul, after a misunderstanding that involved them driving to Cameo Bar and wondering why they couldn't find us. Toward the end of the night, Jess and Trey disapprovingly observed that I, the girl with the alcohol tolerance of a six year old, was barely tipsy after several drinks. But the space was cozy, and it was nice to not be hungover on Saturday morning. Jess and I had a lackluster brunch at the Georgian Hotel. After a huffy, hush-voiced conversation about the terrible service, we very seriously decided that we would only tip 15%. It was warm and sunny at that point, so we walked to the pier, bought thin, ugly towels for $8 each, went to the beach, lay down in the sand for approximately fifteen minutes, observed one another's goosebumps, put our jeans and sweatshirts back on and went to the promenade. Jess bought a pomelo at the farmers market. At Barnes and Noble, I bought Shoplifting from American Apparel by Tao Lin, and Jess bought a book of short stories by Tolstoy. Then Jess got Pinkberry while I commented effusively about how much I fail to understand the appeal of frozen yogurt and oddly segregated toppings. We went back to the Viceroy and tried to read by the pool, but even in jeans and sweatshirts it was so cold we gave up and went up to the room. I was reading and Jess was in the shower when a siren started blaring, interspersed with a noisy announcement that there had been an "event" in the hotel and that we should stand by and await further instruction while they verified the event. The siren and the scary announcement repeated over and over while I threw my book, jewelry, contact lens case, glasses, and birth control pills in my purse, and paced around outside the bathroom, trying to decide whether to tell Jess to get out of the shower or not. Eventually, the siren stopped and a new announcement assured us that everything was "all clear." I spent about an hour applying "a shitload" of eye makeup, striving for sort of a Jenny Humphrey effect, and then Trey picked us up and drove us to Hollywood Boulevard, where we ate sandwiches at Cafe Audrey and then had a couple drinks at Essex Public House, where the waiter was cartoonishly energetic. Jess wondered aloud whether he was an actor or a writer. I guessed both and was right. He told us a little bit about his acting career and the six screenplays he's written, and asked us about our jobs (well, their jobs) and favorite movies. I said Funny Face. He told us his favorite movie is The Princess Bride. We all agreed that was a good one. Then we went to Bar Marmont and felt glamorous. The bartender was wearing a fun top hat. There was nowhere to sit, but then we found a random, awesome, empty back room with a decoupaged ceiling and decided to make ourselves at home and risk getting yelled at. Once we did, a couple other guys followed our lead and we said hi. They said they were from DC, graduated from Georgetown and George Washington in '08, and had flown to LA for the weekend to look at apartments, because they were thinking of giving up their finance/consulting jobs to become producers. Then we left to meet our friend Eric, who went to high school with us, and Trey brought us to his friend's birthday party at a gorgeous house in the Hollywood Hills. Mostly everyone at the party knew each other from Harvard, usually the Harvard Lampoon, except for Eric and me. Everyone was so friendly and funny and welcoming. I talked to BJ Novak for a few minutes, and asked him about the time his character on The Office was reading I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. He said it was Mindy Kaling's idea, to underline how douchey Ryan is, and that they had considered the possibility that some people might misinterpret it as a more positive reference to Tucker Max, but those people are dumb, so whatever. While I was talking to him, it didn't even occur to me that I had the "Subtle Sexuality" music video on my iPod in my purse. But it's probably for the best that I didn't think to mention that, because I would have told him how much I love the part where he says, "My rhymes bite like piranha," and I was already struggling to not give the impression that I wanted to have sex with him. (I have watched "Subtle Sexuality" at least a hundred times, and when Ryan grabs his crotch at the end of his rap it always made me feel kind of squirmy and uncomfortable. I think from now on it might make me feel slightly aroused. (The word "slightly" is used here in an attempt to be considerate of Ed's feelings.)) He is a lot cuter and cooler-looking in person than on The Office. He was wearing hipsterish glasses that really worked for him. Writing this now, I'm second-guessing whether I actually hallucinated the entire experience, because I was drunk and it seems like something that I would make up. Assuming that this was not a dream, which I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but I need to reconfirm with Jess and Trey, I then announced, awkwardly, I'm sure, that I have a boyfriend, and stopped bothering him. Later on, I attempted to demonstrate my still-in-progress yoga headstand in this little indoor/outdoor exercise room next to the pool. Unfortunately, my super drunk strength was canceled out by my lack of any balancing ability whatsoever. Also, I may have accidentally flashed a boob in the process. Then we went back to the hotel so I could finish packing for my crack of dawn JetBlue flight from Long Beach to San Francisco. I was the only passenger on my $50 SuperShuttle ride (versus $100 for a taxi), which arrived at the Viceroy at 4:25 AM. I was very, very, very sleepy and disoriented at the airport, which I found unpleasantly reminiscent of the type of airports that Jess and I wound up at whenever we flew RyanAir to or from Scotland when we were abroad junior year. (The cold, early morning mist, in particular, reminded me of the time that the shack of an airport two hours outside Paris completely shut down due to fog, stranding us with several flights' worth of passengers in a middle of nowhere town with only two taxis for 24 hours or so.) Anyway, I had booked such an early flight because I wanted to get back to San Francisco in time to go the the Vintage Expo at the Concourse Exhibition Center, which turned out to suck and be a waste of $20 for admission. ($10 each, but I paid for Ed.) I was hoping to find some cool vintage costume jewelry like I bought for Jess and my mom and my sister at the "Deco the Halls" expo in December. But all the jewelry was from later decades and tackier and uglier and more expensive and behind glass, so I couldn't try lots of things on without it being a hassle. The fact that I hadn't slept for longer than 45 minutes or so on the plane may have accounted for some bias, but still I think it actually did kind of suck. We went to Whole Foods and I got some triple cream cheese and Ed got real food that more closely resembles meals and then we came home and watched The Office and 30 Rock and napped and vegged out for the rest of the day.

So I had fun in Los Angeles. It was awesome to spend time with Jess and Trey, and I especially liked how everyone treated me as if I am cool and interesting and not stupid and annoying, which is how I usually feel. (I guess I should wear high heels more often.) I could never live there, though, because I can't really drive and thus am limited to cities with adequate public transportation.

Friday, March 12, 2010

No such thing as too much Wonderland.

I can't remember a time when I wasn't fascinated by the idea of falling down a rabbit hole and landing in an absurd and whimsical world full of nonsense and riddles and talking animals.

I have read Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass more times than I could possibly begin to calculate. When I was little, I yearned for blond hair and blue eyes because I wanted to be Alice, and was only somewhat mollified when I learned that Alice Liddell, who inspired the character, had been a brunette, and that John Tenniel's iconic illustrations were based on a different girl. When I was 10 or 11, I wrote a one-act play of Alice in Wonderland, cajoled my neighbors and sister into divvying up all the bit parts so that I could play Alice, and directed a backyard performance for our parents. In high school, I sometimes read the "Mad Tea-Party" chapter of Alice in Wonderland for the "Humorous Interpretation" category at Forensics competitions. (My other HI piece was one of the Oompa-Loompas' songs from Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator.)

I recently decoupaged my coffee table with pages from the books. I have several pieces of Wonderland-inspired artwork (not including the coffee table) decorating my apartment. I have a pet rabbit who blogs under the pseudonym The White Rabbit. And my most deeply cherished ambition is to one day write a fantasy novel that could be deemed a classic, worthy of being shelved alongside the Alice books, as well as The Chronicles of Narnia, A Wrinkle in Time and A Wind in the Door, and the Harry Potter series.

Alice in Wonderland was one of the only animated Disney movies that my family did not own on VHS. I first saw some portions of the movie at IKEA's in-store daycare center. I missed the beginning and didn't even know what I was watching, but the images of Alice, the caterpillar, and the Cheshire Cat were indelibly etched in my mind. This fleeting snippet of a memory is one of the earliest that I am able to recall. I can remember how desperately I wanted to see the entire movie, and when I finally did, I was baffled by my friends' complaints that it was "weird" and "creepy." I loved it, of course. I bought the DVD a couple of years ago and have watched it a few times since then. I also remember a live-action series on the Disney Channel, Adventures in Wonderland, being one of my favorite television shows at the time. And this past December, I very much enjoyed SyFy's Alice mini-series.

So it should probably not come as a surprise when I say that I loved Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. It is my favorite interpretation of the books that I have seen so far.

Ed, Motts, and I saw it last Friday at the Kabuki, which is the only theater where I will watch a movie that has just opened, because you can choose your seats online. I bought tickets a month ahead of time, counting out the seats to make sure that we would be in the exact center of the row. I was tempted to dress up in my most Alicey outfit, but thought it would be wiser not to draw attention to myself, since I was smuggling a 'shrooming rabbit in my purse. I did wear my black and white striped fingerless gloves that I got for $5 at the Marc by Marc Jacobs store a couple of weeks ago, because Ed said they looked sort of Tim Burton-ish. And then, approximately .5 seconds before it was time to show the hostess my ID (we went to a 21+ screening), I realized that she couldn't stamp my hand if I was wearing gloves, and I had to step out of the line to pull them off and I was flustered because of being nervous about getting caught sneaking Motts into the movie. The bar was serving "Mad Hatter" cocktails with absinthe and triple sec, which resulted in a generally nauseous audience once the 3D got going. Several people had to sprint for the bathroom after Alice fell down the rabbit hole, and I was pleasantly surprised that nobody actually vomited in the theater. The girls from Paul's Hat Works were there, dressed in adorable Mad Hatter costumes with tutus and face paint and, obviously, top hats. I ran into them in the bathroom after the movie and attempted to take a picture with my cell phone, but for some reason it was determined only to record video, so I ended up with a couple of blurry, two-second video clips instead of a still photo. (Maybe Motts had been messing with it in my purse?)

I tried to avoid reading any reviews until after I had seen it, and when I got home, I immediately went online, to Rotten Tomatoes, and was shocked to find that it only had a 53%. It seems that many critics were underwhelmed due to high expectations, found the 3D distracting, wanted a more faithful adaptation of the book, thought the characters too flat, or condemned the narrative as either too straightforward or not cohesive enough. Not that anyone cares what I think, but just for the record, I completely disagree with all of these complaints.

I loved the 3D. I found it wonderful and decadently gorgeous and thoroughly immersive, far more so than Avatar or Up.

I thought most of the characters were fantastic. I liked Mia Wasikowska's Alice, Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter, and Helena Bonham Carter's Red Queen the best, but Anne Hathaway's White Queen was also good, aside from her makeup, which I thought could have been better. I tend to dislike most interpretations of Tweedledee and Tweedledum, but they were all right here. I thought the caterpillar was slightly disappointing, and the White Rabbit should have been either cuter or handsomer. The March Hare was fine, but nothing special. I thought the Cheshire Cat was phenomenal, the most perfect illustration of the character that I could have ever imagined.

The story is a fairly standard Hollywood narrative, especially in comparison to the books, which have almost no narrative structure whatsoever. But I'm not sure how it could have been anything else. It's a big budget Disney movie, and I doubt that it could have ever gotten made without an emphasis on external conflict and a more typical story arc. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see a more faithful version of the books, with their meandering, nonsensical plot lines and emphasis on wordplay, riddles, and poetry. But that sort of interpretation would most likely have to be an independent film, or, since that phrase seems to have lost all meaning at this point, it would at least have to be more "indie" than this movie, with a considerably smaller budget.

(If I were writing a film adaptation of the Alice books, mine would be a surreal, episodic version. I'd do Though the Looking-Glass and have the plot follow the book as closely as possible, with an emphasis on scenes and characters that audiences haven't seen before. Alice's kittens, the mirror that melts at her touch, the backwards looking-glass house full of living chess pieces, the countryside marked out like an enormous chessboard, the Gnat with his odd, mournful jokes and the other looking-glass insects, the forest that makes you forget who you are, the practice of punishing criminals before the crime has been committed, the Sheep in her dark, mysterious shop that transforms into a little boat gliding along a stream full of scented rushes and then back into a shop, Humpty Dumpty, the White King with his ridiculous Anglo-Saxon Messengers Haigha and Hatta and their ham sandwiches and hay, the Lion and the Unicorn fighting for the crown and the Unicorn's deal with Alice that he will believe in her if she will believe in him, the White Knight and all his inventions, Alice's transformation from a pawn to a queen at the Eighth Square, her dinner-party where the various courses introduce themselves and refuse to be eaten, and the explosion of chaos at the end, when everything turns into everything else and Alice shakes the Red Queen back into a kitten. It would be a screenplay full of fresh, cinematic, potentially iconic imagery and linguistic playfulness and nobody would ever buy it because it wouldn't follow the rules about structure and stakes and plot points and pacing.)

That's the thing about Alice in Wonderland, though. It's so full of resonant imagery and characters and ideas, there's really no limit to the number of film adaptations that could be made. I would have been sad if Tim Burton's version had sucked, but I didn't expect it to be the definitive version, because the books are and will always be the definitive version. I would watch a new Alice in Wonderland once every six months or so for the rest of my life, if filmmakers continued to churn them out. All I required to be happy with this particular Alice in Wonderland was for it to be gloriously Tim Burton-esque, dark and twisted and indulgent and visually overwhelming. And it was, and I was happy. I will probably go see it again in a couple of weeks, but in IMAX this time, to see how it compares with Dolby Digital 3D.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In the future: Pod people

In the future, there will be three kinds of people: pod people, city people, and land people. But most people will be pod people.

Pod people will live in pod colonies. There will be many pod colonies all over the world. Most will be built facing the ocean, with a few in other geographically desirable areas. Each pod colony will consist of a single massive structure, designed to house several thousand pod people as comfortably, efficiently, and stylishly as possible. The architectural designs of the pod colonies will vary wildly, but functionally, they will be nearly identical. Pod colonies will provide spaces for pod people to sleep, eat, work, learn, and play.

The defining element of the pod colony will be the pod itself. Within each colony, pods will share an identical core structure, but will be endlessly customizable to the most precise and eccentric specifications of the inhabitant. Pods will be extremely compact, but the size will be more than adequate because they will be so perfectly calibrated to the inhabitant's needs. All pods will be constructed using materials of the highest quality, and will be arranged with the utmost attention to ergonomics and aesthetic appeal.

All pods will be equipped with an array of sophisticated technology. Pods will be self-cleaning, thanks to automated systems that require no effort on the part of the inhabitant, aside from occasional straightening up and putting away of personal items. Beds will make themselves with the flick of a switch, and the entire pod will routinely sterilize itself while the inhabitant is elsewhere, ensuring that the air is always fresh, dust is never permitted to accumulate, carpets are always vacuumed, and bathrooms always sparkle. Garbage shoots will instantly whisk all waste away to be sorted and either discarded or reused as appropriate, and laundry shoots will similarly remove soiled clothing to be cleaned in a central location.

Built-in computers will serve as communication and entertainment systems, offering inhabitants on demand access to any type of media at any time. These machines will include large screens with a small ticker visible in one corner at all times, regardless of what else is being displayed on the screen. The ticker will track the user's media consumption and virtual communication habits in an easily digestible format, broken down into various categories and subcategories. Pod technology will be sleek, sexy, and intuitive: all the most seductive Apple products rolled into one flawless device.

There will be pods for singles, pods for couples, and pods for families with up to two children. Single pods will include one computer, one desk, one desk chair, one bed, one bedside table, one wardrobe/chest of drawers, one toilet, one bathroom sink, one shower, a small refrigerator, a small kitchen sink, a small counter for very basic food preparation, a single burner for very basic food preparation, a small love seat, a coffee table, and one additional chair of the inhabitant's choice: either a simple upholstered chair, a recliner, or a chaise lounge. Couples pods will be similar, but each inhabitant will have his or her own computer, desk, desk chair, bedside table, wardrobe/chest of drawers, bathroom sink, and additional chair. The bed, sofa, and refrigerator will be slightly larger than in single pods. Single and individual pods will consist of two rooms: a living/sleeping space, and a bathroom. Family pods will be divided into five rooms, for the sake of privacy: a shared living space, one bedroom for the parents, one bedroom for the children, one bathroom for the parents, and one bathroom for the children. Each child will have his or her own computer, desk, desk chair, bedside table, wardrobe/chest of drawers, bathroom sink, and additional chair. The sofa, refrigerator, kitchen sink, and kitchen counter will be slightly larger than in couples pods, and a second burner will be provided. Couples and families will be limited to one chaise lounge per pod. All pods will include adequate lighting.

In essence, each pod will resemble a small but luxurious room (or suite, in the case of family pods) in a fashionable boutique hotel, but with expressive customization options reminiscent of a MySpace profile, communication and entertainment systems reminiscent of an enormous iPad, and a robotic maintenance system reminiscent of The Jetsons.

In addition to thousands of private pods, each pod colony will contain cafeterias, fitness centers, offices, classrooms, libraries, and socialization areas. All pod people will be considered members of the pod colony in which they live, and will have equal access to all community spaces.

The cafeterias will serve healthy and delicious food in correct portion sizes. Snacks and desserts will be provided in moderation, and gorging will not be facilitated. Pod food will be simple and natural, and all food will be made from fresh, raw, organic ingredients on the premises. Most ingredients will be grown on the roof of the pod colony, or on small farms on the land immediately surrounding the pod colony. Pod colonies will sometimes trade with other pod colonies for specialty items. Some ingredients, meat in particular, will be procured from land people. However, before agreeing to accept meat or other animal products from land people, pod colonies will thoroughly verify that animals were raised humanely and sustainably, without hormones, antibiotics, or unnatural feeds. Any pod person who prefers to prepare his or her own food will be welcome to do so in the communal kitchen of any cafeteria, where plenty of natural ingredients and the highest caliber tools and equipment will be made available.

Fitness centers will be open twenty-two hours per day. Once every twelve hours, the fitness center will close for one hour to sterilize itself. There will be a wide variety of machines, equipment, and classes, and pod people will be encouraged to explore different types of exercise. Personal trainers will be available for support and motivation, and to ensure that pod people are performing exercises safely and correctly. Personal trainers will be warm, welcoming people who do not judge or intimidate. Yoga will be quite popular among the pod people, and in many pod colonies, some of the most attractive spaces with the most beautiful views will be designated for the practice of yoga.

Pod people will have access to a myriad of therapists and analysts who will be happy to discuss anything at all, from the most trifling neurosis to the most debilitating trauma. There will be matchmakers to help pod people find the perfect mate and dermatologists to help pod people perfect their skin. All pod people will have equal access to health care, which will be easy to provide, since pod colonies will be quite safe and there will be few accidents, and since everyone will have the necessary resources and education to remain as healthy as possible. There will be design consultants, aesthetic experts who will offer their assistance in order to maintain the overall attractiveness of the pod colony and its inhabitants.

Every pod person will receive an education that exalts and encourages empathy, intellectual curiosity, analytical ability, personal expression, and imagination. This education will endorse no theology, but will instead foster a combination of healthy skepticism and nurtured spirituality. Pod teachers will not promote notions of separatism, elitism, or nationalism.

Since all pod people will have access to all media electronically, print will become impractical and unnecessary. However, some pod people will still prefer to read words printed on paper at times, and each pod colony will contain an extensive library of physical books and magazines for this purpose.

Socialization areas will be tailored to a staggeringly wide range of interests. There will be spaces for people who like kittens, spaces for people who like trance music, spaces for people who like classical music, spaces for people who play video games, spaces for people who want to have sex, spaces for people who take various drugs. (All recreational drugs will be legal and freely available to any pod person over the age of eighteen who passes a brief educational course and exam.) These socialization areas will be easy to navigate and open to any pod person at any time, with the exception of a few spaces which will be off limits to pod people under the age of eighteen.

Pod colonies will have no currency. All colony members will have all their basic needs provided for, and will have access to unlimited media and communication, for free, for as long as they choose to live in pods. Anyone who wishes to become a member of a pod colony may join freely, and will be assigned his or her own private pod. However, all perspective members must agree to fulfill the following requirements:

1. All pod people must contribute to the colony. All community roles will be performed on a voluntary basis. Teachers, chefs, personal trainers, yoga instructors, engineers, therapists, design consultants, and so on, will do their jobs because they find them interesting and satisfying, and because they wish to contribute to their colony. Their only additional reward will be personal pride and, if they are good at their jobs, recognition from the community. Those who are not drawn to a particular role will be assisted in discovering a passion, and those who are uninterested in pursuing a community role out of passion or interest will be encouraged to take on more menial tasks. These jobs, though rote and not particularly fulfilling, will be fairly easy, since the true drudgery will be handled by robots. There will be no specific requirements for what "contributing to the community" entails, and pod people will always be free to devote a day or several to leisure and relaxation. However, if a pod person routinely refuses to make any sort of contribution, it will eventually be brought to the attention of the community, and appropriate, considered measures will be taken on a case by case basis.

2. Hatred and cruelty will not be permitted. Acts of violence will be strictly prohibited, outside of a few designated socialization pods. No pod person will be allowed to inflict suffering on another pod person. Disagreements must be resolved through logical, articulate discussion, and if that is not possible, a conflict resolution specialist will be called upon to facilitate harmony. If a pod person cannot resolve a disagreement peacefully, he or she may be put into temporary isolation or even ejected from the colony.

3. Pod people must be committed to sustainability, in all forms. Unnecessary consumption, destruction, and waste will be discouraged. Each couple will be permitted to produce a maximum of two children. Single parenthood will be socially accepted, and a single parent will be assured of having all the resources necessary for her or himself and her or his child. However, single parents will be limited to one child per individual. (A single mother may have two children as long as the father or fathers do not have additional children with other women. Paternity tests will be administered when there is any doubt.)

Birth control will be provided to all pod people, and most pregnancies will be planned. The very few accidental pregnancies that do occur will be discovered almost immediately, and a quick, safe, painless abortion will be an easily available, socially acceptable option. Adoption will also be an easily available, socially acceptable option. Same-sex couples and infertile opposite-sex couples who wish to raise one or two children will be encouraged to adopt from among the few unwanted, orphaned, or abandoned children, or children who have been removed from unfit parents. (Parents who find themselves unsuited to parenthood will have the option of giving their child to a same-sex or infertile couple who have applied, and they will be free to visit that child throughout his or her life, should the child agree to continue such a relationship.)

Once a woman has given birth to her second child, she must either: A. agree to be sterilized, B. agree to take birth control and abort any accidental pregnancies, C. agree to adopt out any future children to a qualified couple who cannot have children of their own, D. file for a special dispensation to exceed the two child limit and convince a committee that she is uniquely suited to raising well adjusted members of the community, or E. agree to take all of her children and leave the pod colony if she does become pregnant with a third child and subsequently refuse to abort it or give it up for adoption. In the event that a woman becomes pregnant with twins, triplets, etc., exceptions to the limits can be made.

4. In order to partake of the infinite cornucopia of media, pod people must provide feedback. In some cases, they will simply be prompted to click a button indicating whether they "like," "dislike," or are "unsure" about any post, video, or image. At other times, required feedback may consist of a somewhat but not unreasonably extensive survey. Usually, there will be an option to include a written comment, but comments must adhere to basic grammatical structure, capitalization and punctuation. Comments that do not meet this standard will be rejected by the comment filter. As long as the commenter displays a functional command of his or her native language, though, the comment will be read and considered by a qualified party. Feedback will be used for the continued enhancement of the media and technology available to all pod people.

In the future, this is how the pod people will live.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I'm probably judging you.

I'm pretty judgmental, I think. Here are some ways that I judge people, roughly in order of importance:

  1. Do you smell bad?
  2. Are you rude or inconsiderate?
  3. Are you overbearing?
  4. Are you arrogant or egotistical?
  5. Do you chew loudly, or with your mouth open?
  6. Are you wearing unflattering shoes?
  7. Do your posture or mannerisms cause you to invade my personal space?
  8. Do you carry yourself as though in a position of power?
  9. Do you lack self-awareness?
  10. Are you smart?
  11. Are you smug?
  12. Do you have interesting things to say?
  13. Do you actively listen to other people, or do you prefer to hear yourself talk? Do you play with your phone while others are speaking to you?
  14. Are you fixed and rigid in your opinions?
  15. Are you a Republican?
  16. Are you conservative?
  17. Do you like Lost? If not, do you actively dislike it, or have you just never watched it? Or are you a lapsed Lost fan?
  18. Are you good at banter and/or picking up on sarcasm? Can you distinguish between sarcasm, sincerity, and facetiousness?
  19. Do you enjoy making cynical, negative, dismissive comments about hipsters, hippies, Twitter, bikes, or Lady Gaga?
  20. Do you read?
  21. Do you like animals?
  22. Do we have similar taste in movies or television?
  23. Are you empathetic?
  24. Do you seem to harbor any biases against predefined groups of people?
  25. Are you tense or high-strung, or do you have a relaxed, comforting presence?
  26. Do you smoke weed?
  27. Do you disapprove of drugs in general? Do you support legalization?
  28. Are you outdoorsy?
  29. Are you boring?
  30. Do you drink? What kind of drinker are you?
  31. Do you "work out" regularly?
  32. Are you fun?
  33. Are you a "foodie" and/or do you enjoy wine tasting? What about cheese?
  34. Are you religious? If so, how religious?
  35. Is your vocabulary noticeably limited?
  36. Do you tend to take things/people for granted?
  37. Do you drive frequently, even when other forms of transportation are readily available?
  38. Is your vehicle large or ostentatious?
  39. Do you appreciate art?
  40. What about tasteful design? Do you have a developed aesthetic sensibility, particularly with regards to fashion and home decor?
  41. Do you endeavor to present yourself in a contrived manner?
  42. Do you enjoy whimsy?
  43. Is your lifestyle more indulgent or ascetic?
  44. Do you use, or at least attempt to use, correct spelling and punctuation in your online communications? What about capitalization? How do you feel about the Oxford comma?
  45. Do you prefer to text message or talk on the phone?
  46. Do you litter?
  47. Do you routinely disparage or condescend to others in order to cultivate a sense of your own superiority?
  48. Are you thoughtful?
  49. Are you unusually sheltered for your age?
  50. Which is more important to you, being nice or being honest?