Ten Foods You Should NEVER Microwave

10. Pizza

Pizza arrives at your door hot. This is not because pizza generates its own heat (it doesn’t). It’s because pizza is better hot than cold. Microwaved pizza is just one step up from cold. Use the oven!

9. Broccoli

The issue with microwaving broccoli is that broccoli is trash and your microwave deserves better. Continue reading “Ten Foods You Should NEVER Microwave”

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Demetri Martin and the obsessively examined life

The pieces of media I wrote about in my last two enthusiasm posts, Owl City’s Ocean Eyes and the movie Hoot, are at least reasonably well-known even if most people are apathetic about them. But when I ask people about the subject of today’s post, Demetri Martin’s stand-up set If I, almost nobody has heard of it. To me, this performance is the pinnacle of the philosophical comedy genre I wrote about a while back in a post about DC Pierson. It’s a comedy show, as Demetri Martin is nominally a comedian, but it provides more introspection than laugher and that’s not a bad thing in this case.

Demetri opens the performance with this gem: “The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates said that. I would just add one thing – man. The unexamined life is not worth living, man!” This is the tone of the show distilled. It’s obsessive self-analysis and urgent soul-searching, softened by deadpan humor. It rules.

Continue reading “Demetri Martin and the obsessively examined life”

Millennials in an Alternate Reality

Millennials are the worst. They are entering the workforce at increasing rates and soon they’ll be the ones shaping the future. They are the largest demographic in the United States, and because they are the worst, everything is going wrong.

When millennials were growing up, only the winners received trophies. Their dispassionate fixation on results over process is a byproduct of this broken trophy-distribution system. Maybe if we hadn’t overemphasized the importance of final outcomes, millennials could enjoy the journey without thought of the destination. But it’s too late; millennials know that effort is only worthwhile if leads to a W.

When they were kids, millennials were told that only truly exceptional people could do exceptional things. Today’s twentysomethings never had to give up on being an astronaut because they never dared to imagine it. They’re very rational, but they’ve forgotten how to dream.

Millennials, defying even the most conservative estimates, are the most technology-averse generation since the Great Depression. Their comparatively poor social skills are likely a result of their tendency to isolate themselves from the effortless connectivity of modern technology.

Millennials understand that no one person is truly unique. Their parents constantly reinforced this theme, and as a result, millennials are bystanders – they expect somebody better or smarter to come along and do all the things that need doing.

A common refrain among millennials is “follow the money.” They are financially successful, because they eschew fulfilling careers for jobs more suited to their skills, but their careers are often marked by hesitancy. Because they generally do not believe they are special, they feel unprepared when it comes time for them to assume leadership roles. They often instinctively suspect that promotions are clerical errors or practical jokes. They accept unhappiness because they have never expected better.

This generation the least self-aware in recent memory. They’ve earned the nickname “the You generation.” Despite their stunted interpersonal skills, they are fixated on the well-being of others to a fault. Ask a millennial about his likes and dislikes, about her aspirations, and you will receive a blank stare. How can millennials be happy if they don’t know what they want? How can we continue to create art and music and literature if the largest demographic in the country has no concept of self to express?

Millennials are great employees. Just don’t try to have a stimulating conversation with one.

How to make shark week better

Shark Week, like bacon, is more popular for being popular than for being what it is. I’ve thought of a few tweaks to ensure that Shark Week lives up to the cultural fervor surrounding it.

  • When researchers/idiots are trying to use a new technique to capture or film a rare shark, Mark Cuban should show up and incredulously say, “This idea is bullshit. Do you even have a patent? What’s keeping me from recreating this deep sea camera lens in my garage tomorrow?”
  • Many of the programs are currently narrated by, I’m assuming, failed action-movie-trailer narrators who overly dramatize moments that don’t even directly precede commercial breaks. These hacks should be replaced by a) successful action-movie-trailer narrators, b) shark experts who can provide interesting science facts, or c) people who know nothing about sharks. The last option might be preferable, because they would either say very little and allow viewers to focus on the shark videos, or hilariously comment on peripheral aspects of the footage (a la Karl Pilkington).
  • Whenever a shark bites something on camera, a little image of a Finding Nemo character should appear in the bottom corner and chant, “SHARK BAIT, HOO HA HA.” There should be no cap on the number of times this can happen in a segment.
  • There should not be hashtagged facebook updates from viewers on my TV screen, ever. This should be a given for any show, unless the aforementioned viewers are Charles Barkley.
  • Discovery Channel should replay the exact same programming from Shark Week ten years ago and see if anyone notices, and when they don’t, replay the same lineup in nine years, and so on until all the annoying little tweets at the bottom of the screen say things like “Anyone else think these same shark shows were on during the shark week six months ago?”
  • The Mythbusters should tackle the myth that Shark Week only happens once a year.
  • Regarding the title, “Deadliest Catch” is a gigantic letdown. During Shark Week, there should be an episode of “Deadliest Catch” where the fishermen somehow haul up a shark in one of their crab traps and have to scramble to throw it back. If he’s available, it would also be good to have Ashton Kutcher come out at the end and reveal that Discovery Channel spent a ton of money orchestrating the prank. If Ashton Kutcher is busy, Kyle Korver will do.
  • The divers and people on the boats above should have radios that actually work. Being able to understand the dialogue is more important than injecting no-budget-horror-movie tension.
  • There should be commercials for shark care products and nutritionally superior shark foods.
  • Every time a diver expresses concern about going into sharky waters, an infographic should pop up to warn viewers about something that kills more people per year (adjusted for exposure, of course) than sharks do, like stairs or champagne corks.

These adjustments would catapult Shark Week from a pretty good concept to a fantastic cultural phenomenon worthy of all the fawning facebook updates it currently inspires. I give you, Discovery Channel, permission to use any and all of these ideas without further instruction from me. I look forward to next year’s Shark Week.

Ten Things to Do or Learn in Your Twenties

As a twentysomething in today’s world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with expectations of what you should do and who you should be.  Luckily for you, you don’t have to listen to society’s boring, outdated notions of what you should become.  Alternatively: luckily for you, you don’t have to listen to society’s hypersexualized, shallow notions of what you should become.  There’s a better path.  Your twenties should be about developing yourself and finding fulfilling activities that improve you as a person and make you more interesting.  All you have to do is follow this list and you’ll be a competent, respected, desirable, self-actualized young adult.  These expectations and standards are the right ones.  So without further ado, here are ten things to do or learn in your twenties.

1.  Learn how to make your own coffee or tea

Sometimes store-bought beverages just aren’t good enough.  Oh, those stores have built multimillion-dollar businesses selling those drinks?  Who cares.  Learning to brew your own will impress all your friends and it’s oddly fulfilling.

2.  Take a roadtrip

In the aftermath of the worst recession since the 1930s, I can’t think of anything more prudent to do with your money than to explore America on four wheels.  The best investment you can make is in yourself.

3.  Learn to play an instrument

This is a very worthwhile thing to do, because it’s fulfilling for everyone and it’s the kind of thing hip twentysomethings do in movies, so obviously it makes sense to do it in real life.  Also, it’s so easy that it’s just another bullet point on your unstoppable journey towards success and actualization. Continue reading “Ten Things to Do or Learn in Your Twenties”

Should I like this?

I think it’s fairly common to like something, and then meet someone else who likes it, and then reassess your own opinion because you don’t want to be associated with that person.  There are a number of ways this can happen.

Often, the other person is way more enthusiastic about the thing that you both like, and their strange obsession makes you think that liking this band or book or whatever even a little is bad.  I think this happened to a lot of us with anime around fifth grade.  Drawing cartoons is fun, right?  WRONG.  After you meet a hard-core anime fan, and guiltily think to yourself how weird they are about anime even though your mom told you not to judge people too quickly, you simply cannot sit idly by and enjoy drawing anime-style cartoons.  Extreme enthusiasm often puts sharper relief into things than mild fandom does, and sometimes the clearer picture isn’t what you’d want to be associated with.

Sometimes you realize that the fans of what you like are jerks.  Maybe they’re elitist about their fandom or just seem generally unpleasant.  You think that maybe you’re elitist and unpleasant since you like “The Stranger” also, and you have to wonder if maybe you’re wrong to like what you like, if you’re the kind of person who wants to be egalitarian and kind.

Other times you think that other people like something for totally wrong reasons, and you shrug off nagging suspicions that you fall into the elitist jerk category because you know you’re just right.  I had this experience when I went to a Dave Matthews concert and I wondered how many of the people in the audience had actually listened to the lyrics of a Dave Matthews song.  This is also common with people like John Mayer and Ed Sheeran, who attract fan bases composed of admiring teenage girls who couldn’t care less what their crushes’ guitars sounded like.

And most resentment has at least a drop of jealousy.  Maybe someone’s over-the-top fandom makes you uncomfortable or they like something for what you think are inane reasons.  Is it really your job or my job to tell these people that they’re too enthusiastic or they don’t like things the right way?  Part of me wishes I were so sure about what I liked and disliked had the courage to wear it proudly.  I often find myself thinking, “I don’t want to be weird, but I don’t want to be boring, and I don’t know what people think is in the middle of those two adjectives.”  Fans that make us uncomfortable have chosen a side, for better or worse, and that’s admirable.