Last night, on a whim and because S invited me, I went to a ghost tour of City Hall. I was kind of imagining an intimate group as I figured there would just not be that many people interested in this sort of thing. I was wrong. Even when you took into account that half of them were attending the Filipino heritage ceremony in the rotunda, there were still a ton of people there. Probably 2 tons. While we were milling around waiting for kickoff, we glanced at the program and noticed that there was a whole page of medical disclaimers saying that you weren’t allowed to be there if you had hypertension, vapors, PTSD, ADD, or Extra-Sensory Perception. At that point S had to leave. No, not really. Although it was a pretty comprehensive list, and I was surprised that no one with ESP walked out.
The tour itself was interesting not least because I had never explored City Hall, which is sort of mysterious and beautiful. The guide regaled us with stories of assassinations (Harvey Milk, George Moscone) and how 1-2 tons of guards had heard footsteps and their names being whispered in their ears, which if it happened to you I’m sure would be pretty terrifying, but when you hear about someone else hearing footsteps it’s just not that creepy. This is probably why movies like Saw X, are more commonly made than movies like An Ambiguous Noise at City Hall. The more I heard about these ghosts the more I started to wonder why ghosts are so, well, lame. I mean ghost stories are always about going into the living room and finding three CDs laid out in a straight line and the throw pillows rearranged. Is rearranging someone’s living room in almost imperceptible ways really the only thing ghosts can think of to do? Are all ghosts wanna be contestants on Design Star? Ghosts these days lack imagination. Must be all the TV.
WIRED yourself. http://wiredyourself.tumblr.com/
WIRED interns/staffers/freelancers pose with their new favorite things.
Celebrities and photo retouching have caused people to lose all perspective in terms of what good looking is. Have you noticed how you finally meet your friend’s “hot” boyfriend, and literally I have a friend who said her boyfriend was so hot that I would actually be too nervous to speak to him, and then you meet him, and he’s fine looking, he’s cute, but he doesn’t look anything like Penn Badgely. Which is shocking to you because that’s the MINIMUM of what you were expecting when you heard the word “hot.” Like that’s a normal standard to have.
Or you meet your friend’s “gorgeous” friend who she is always describing wistfully as like the “hot” one who is getting friended by strangers on Facebook, and she gets there, and you find yourself feeling so let down (and just overjoyed at the same time) because you were expecting Penelope Cruz, and why are you always expecting Penelope Cruz? Very few people are Penelope Cruz, but all these celebrity pictures that take really good looking people and then shave off half their faces and their elbows, to somehow make them more attractive is causing us to completely undervalue normal beauty.
Except that this phenomenon of being set up for hot and instead getting human, only exists because we think our friends and boyfriends are better looking than they actually are, which is very sweet in a way.
He teams up with Judd Apatow, for a prequel to The Sixth Sense called Just Five Senses So Far, which stars Shyamalan himself as Night, a 40-year-old man-child just discovering his sense of smell. After his partner (a role likely played by Shyamalan) dies in a freak accident, Night, goes on a journey into the terrifying underworld of the black-market sense trade where he has to use his newly discovered smelling ability to defeat a shit-ton of aliens. In the end, he must be crucified by a blind chef (played by Shyamalan) in order to save humanity from a really bad smell. It is only after he is killed and reborn as a beagle that Night realizes it wasn’t his nose that had kept him from smelling, but the fact that he had never been born at all.
You shouldn’t listen to music while reading poetry or wear your sunglasses at the same time as you’re listening to music and walking down the street. Do only one of these things at a time to remain human. You shouldn’t think you hate poems. They have never done anything bad to you, except tried to give you joy and made you frustrated instead. It’s not fair to do poetry like that.
You should always forgive your friends for falling in love. Love never did anything bad to you except for everything bad, ever. You’ve tried to get visceral over climate change, but are still calling your friends at 11 to about the most inane things.
People in the South tend to undervalue things, which is good to know before you go here. Either that, or they have no idea what the word creek means. It definitely does not mean a body of water so large you could float a barge down it, or not be able to walk across it without getting your sandal very wet or drowning.
Similarly, they do not know what a cottage is. If you hear a Southerner referring to something as “the main cottage” that thing is not a cottage. There is no such thing as a “main cottage” as the very definition of the word “cottage” precludes that structure from being the main of anything. A cottage is a place on a heath where a goatherd and a milk maid live together. A cottage is not a 3-bedroom 2 bath split level with an attached garage and vaulted ceilings. That is a house.
I don’t want to beat this point to death, but it has to be said that southerners do not know what a nettle is. Anyone who has grown up in the Pacific Northwest knows that a nettle is a pesky little plant that stings you if you touch it and leaves itchy little welts in its wake. So you can imagine my surprise when one day while cruising down a “creek” in a “skiff” called The Algonquin, I one of my shipmates started complaining about not being able to swim because the nettles were so bad.
Now, I had never heard of a nettle living under the water so I said rather plainly, “I’ve never heard of a nettle living underwater.” A good point I thought, but which was met with blank looks, and a somewhat sarcastic, “As opposed to what? Flying through the air?” Then everyone went back to what they had been talking about before. It was only hours later, after B pointed to a JELLYFISH and said, “Nettle.” Like a parent teaching a mentally challenged toddler, that I understood. In the south, a nettle that leaves itchy welts in its wake, is a jellyfish, not a plant that grows underwater.
What really confused me about this encounter wasn’t that there was one word with two different meanings, but how ready everyone was to dismiss the fact that I had said something as idiotic as, “I’ve never heard of a jellyfish living underwater.”
People are afraid to do open-mic standup comedy, and it’s probably because it’s just about the most pretentious thing you could possibly do besides run for president or murder someone.
I’m going to get up on this barely elevated stage, and I am going to try to make you laugh. I’m not going to definitely make you laugh, because some things I’m going to say aren’t funny, and some of you can be stupid, but probably not in the same way that I can be stupid, and also some of you laugh mainly on the inside and should really stop coming to open-mics.
Last Wednesday I tried my hand at a comedy open mic. It was at a café/laundromat. Being that it was “Ladies Night,” in a laundromat, it was probably just about the safest place to do stand-up, and it was terrifying. My friend Laura, who has done it before, came with me, and I definitely would never have gotten on stage if she hadn’t been there. Before she arrived I was even thinking of how I wasn’t going to go up, but I would say, to all the people I had told, that I did. I wouldn’t get into too many details because that is the surest way to give away a lie. I would just say it went, “Fine,” and never mention it again. But then Laura did show up, and I started thinking about Eleanor Roosevelt, and how I should do one thing everyday that scares me although I don’t think she said one thing every day that makes you feel like you’re going to vomit.
While I was waiting for Laura I had watched a fellow wannabe comic, who I had seen here before, actually laugh out loud as she was writing something down for her set. This was pretty intimidating, and I looked down at my typed notes, and didn’t find anything there particularly “funny haha.” It was mostly “funny…hmm” and sometimes just “hmm.”
I drank 2 beers and then sidled up to the organizer while pretending to be walking towards the bathroom. This was how I tricked myself into putting my name down. I said, “Do you know where the bathroom is. I would like to try my hand at standup comedy.”
I wish someone had told me about beer in 3rd grade when I was literally so scared of giving presentations that I would break out in hives.
Slowly, and then all at once, my turn at the mic came around. Everyone clapped heartily, and seemed genuinely enthused to have me up there. Like they had paid to come watch me tell jokes, or at the very least had invited me to do it for free.
I launched into my set. Beginning with basically the last few things I have covered on this blog. The hardest part was remembering who I was and what I was doing there over all the nerves. The trick to standup comedy besides the obvious funny bits is I think to be able to kind of freely associate like you do when you’re talking to your friends. I mean, you have to prepare, but you have to be able to be spontaneous too, and not so nervous that you forget how to think.
At one point I was heckled by a guy who MINUTES earlier had walked up to me while I was seated in the audience and said, “I work here, and I can get you a beer for free, but you have to tell me your name.” I don’t remember what his comment was, but I do remember that I didn’t understand it, and so my response was, “and that’s why you’re not up here.” Like with us. The real comedians. Writing this now, I realize I should have included that last part in my response, because then I would have been in on the joke instead of woefully outside of it. But like I said you forget yourself up there.