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The five people you meet on the internet

19 Sep

I like to sign up for random stuff on the internet. Even better if whatever I sign up for results in me getting stuff in the mail. Who doesn’t like receiving things in the mail? The same people who hate puppies, that’s who! And Nazis. Nazis totally hate mail.

This is pretty much the sole reason why I am an IMPer, and why I had loads of fun with the book “High Weirdness by Mail” as a dorky preteen. It’s also why I recently signed up for a penpalling site. I figured it would be a good way to make new friends in interesting places, who I could then go visit. Specifically, I would like to make new friends in New York City. You see, I visit New York a lot.* And when I am there, I know approximately .75 people.**

Knowing less than one person while in a city of more than 19 million is kind of depressing. I am sure that, out of that 19 million, there are probably at least five or six really rad people that would totally think I was rad, and would eat dinner with me or maybe know of a good bar to go to. And the sort of people who can pull their shit together enough to write a letter, put it in an envelope, and add a stamp? Well, they tend to be the types that are better at follow-through than, say, your average Facebookian. Right? Wrong. Well, at least so far.

Thus far, I have met five types of people on the penpalling site:

  • Sideways hat guy: This guy is really skinny. If he is wearing a shirt, it is a too-big tee shirt with a stretched collar. His cap is on sideways, because he is COOL. He says “Wassup GURL!?” on your profile. He may or may not have a gold tooth. He is sometimes making a gang sign in his photo.
  • Middle aged guy: Hi! Your smile is so bewitching! You may think I am young because of my command of hip slang, but OH NO I AM OLD! HA HA! But oh-so-mature. I will treat you niccceeeee, Clairisssse. And by “nice” I mean I will buy you a bandage dress from Wet Seal and then expect head as payment.
  • Scammer guy: I hope you don’t mind friendship. CLICK ON LINK to win!!!
  • Large-breasted, scantily clad, headless girl: CHk oUT my PICXXXX!! thx! Click here! xoxoxxxoooo
  • Toothless people: I try not to judge based on appearance. I do, I really do. But teeth, they do not reach this state of rot by natural means, OH NO. There is only one way they get that way. And it is by abusing a drug featured in countless public service announcements. Meth heads in real life scare me plenty, thanks.

*Furthermore, I may be moving there a year from now and it would be cool to know people then, too.
**Curious about the math? Well, here is how it adds up to .75:

  • .25 person: The son of one of my mom’s work friends, to whom I was introduced solely because he lives in New York. Had dinner once. May one day have lunch.
  • .25 person: A delightful lady who I know through a work vendor relationship. We could be friends, if she wasn’t always trying to sell me something.
  • .25 person: An old friend from college, who has since acquired a wife who is threatened by my presence, which I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know about anyway. Can you say skeezy?

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Six strange Sarah things

27 Jun

This is the first in a series of reader requests! This one is from sillywrongbutvividright, who asks, “Sarah … why don’t you keep a personal blog anymore? Go on, give us something of you ;)”

Well OK then. How about more than you ever wanted to know?

1. I sign the alphabet along with dialogue in movies. It helps when watching very tedious films, like, say, Gone in 60 Seconds, to see whether or not I can keep up with the dialogue when spelling out each word letter-by-letter with my hands instead of speaking. I usually can, unless it’s something really talky like a Whit Stillman flick. Sometimes I catch myself doing this in public, like in long meetings or while talking to boring people.

2. When going up or down stairs, especially new sets of stairs I’ve not been up or down before, I count them. If I’m going to be going up or down them often, I feel like it’s important to know exactly how many there are. In the house I grew up in, for example, there were 14 stairs to get to the front door, and another 16 to get to my room. My old office was 65 steps from the ground floor. It takes three steps to get to my front door now.

3. I am terrified of escalators. Especially getting on them when going down. What seems to go totally unnoticed in the general population is that these things are death machines. Who’s to say my pant cuff won’t get caught in those evil-looking teeth? And what happens if I stand between a step instead of on one? Surely I should plummet to my untimely demise. I have a similar dislike of treadmills for this reason, much to the amusement of my physical therapist.

4. Shopping malls give me panic attacks. I can tolerate being inside one for maybe a half an hour before I start to feel an overwhelming sense of doom, freak out, and have to make a beeline for the exit – escalators be damned. It matters not whether I’ve purchased or even located whatever it was I came to buy – I have to leave right then and there – no time for Orange Julius, it’s out, out, OUT I SAY!

6. I smell books. All books. Library books. New books from the bookstore. Books you lend me. Books that come in the mail. I do this in public, in front of people. I can’t help myself. Something about growing up being the nerdliest of all the nerdly readers has given me a peculiar affection for books – their weight, their smell, their binding, their textured pages and covers. You can’t get that from a Nook or a Kindle or even packages of books on tape. I will always be a book sniffer.

Educational Elite

21 Mar
Graduate-bot says what?

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. In fact, I’ve been thinking about higher education, Ivy-league and otherwise, since before I finished undergrad. I’m not talking academics, here, because I’ve been thinking academics since forever. My official membership in the Nerd Herd was granted in high school, and I keep the flame burning in my adult life by making grammar jokes and geeking out about fonts on the regular.

No, I’m talking about something far more insidious, something which I’ll call “Schooling.” I started thinking about this before the end of high school, when I was applying to colleges. Even though I had a 4.0, high SAT scores and seven million extracurricular feathers in my hat, I knew my family couldn’t afford Wellesley or Harvard, so I didn’t bother applying. I picked the closest, cheapest public university. I held steadfastly to the idea that “good” schools don’t equal “smart” people. And I still believe that’s true with all my heart.

But a couple years out of college, I started reading a bunch of junk about class (Snobbery: The American Version, and Class: A Guide through the American Status System, among others) that adjusted my perspective. Sure, going to a “good” college doesn’t make you a “good” person. But having credentials from a “better” school WILL make people perceive you as “better” – better at your job, better at thinking/living/succeeding – and you will therefore be the recipient of preferential treatment, likely advancing farther and faster than your averagely-schooled countrymen. Thus, the perception that people who went to good schools are better/smarter/faster becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In true Baader-Meinhof style, my new perspective was reinforced wherever I went. My current workplace is above-average in its obsession with Schooling. My immediate supervisor not only gleefully puts down my alma mater, but includes my hometown(s), parental occupations and the part of Portland where I live as dry tinder for the fires of devaluation. Introductions to new people are prefaced with long strings of alma maters, followed by names as inessential afterthoughts.

Not me, I swear.

A recent article from The Cronicle of Higher Education took educational elitism to a whole new level, reinforcing my suspicions that it’s not what you accomplish or how smart you are, but where you’ve been and who you know that matters in certain (powerful, rich) circles.

“Why all this prognostication?” you may ask. Outside of discourse for discourse’s sake, some of you know that I’ve been mulling pursuing my masters for oh, say, ever. I applied to a few schools, and got into all of them. I’ve narrowed my choices down to two: One is close to home and dirt-cheap. The other is far away and Ivy league. So research into educational elitism is not only interesting, but personally a propos. If the coursework is the same – and I believe it is – which one do I choose? Do I follow the proletariat’s path and attend the former, or “sell out” and attend the latter? Dear readers, weigh in in the comments. Do it now, lest I royally screw up my future, my credibility, or both!

*By the by, linking to these books don’t equate to authorial laudability – both authors are a tad douchey, and exhibit little humanity in belittling those-of-lesser-means, which ought to be a cardinal sin in the writing world. If you can’t empathize, you shouldn’t storytell.

Gay nerds unite! XBox hates you a little less

6 Mar

Or maybe they hate you more? From their PR, it’s kind of hard to tell, but the gist of the news is this: Gamers can now use the word “gay” in their username if they so choose. Gay, yay! In a press release, Xbox Live General Manager Marc Whitten tells gamers:

“The Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct are designed to create a place where people can safely enjoy all of the ways to interact on our service … without fear of discrimination or harassment…

[We’ve] update[d] the Xbox LIVE Terms of Use and Code of Conduct which will allow our members to more freely express their race, nationality, religion and sexual orientation in Gamertags and profiles. Under our previous policy, some of these expressions of self identification were not allowed in Gamertags or profiles to prevent the use of these terms as insults or slurs. … it inadvertently excluded a part of our Xbox LIVE community.”

Typically most corporate PR is horribly executed, but the above manages to paint the company in a positive light after what could’ve been a PR disaster. It manages to make me feel warm and fuzzy feelings for XBox when my first reaction was set to stun.

They’ve made an important distinction in admitting that gamers often use the word “gay” (and all its hatefully misspelled derivations) as an insult, and positioning themselves as simply trying to protect that demographic. Whether it’s true or not we’ll never know, but I kind of want to shake the hand of whatever PR flak actually wrote that letter, because we all know it wasn’t Marc Whitten.

To put this whole thing in context, here’s a PSA from Wanda Sykes waaaaaaay back in 2008:

What do you think, fellow nerds? Was it just an oversight on XBox’s part? Were they really trying to protect their gay players’ feelers? Or were they just being what most companies are: Juggernauts of social mores, laser-focused on the bottom line, and way behind the times?

*Photo from the wonderful Consumerist blog.

Naked Nerds: With your clothes off, no one can tell you read Gaiman

2 Mar

What’s better than looking at scantily clad ladies? An excuse to look at scantily clad ladies! With nerd burlesque, you get to allay your naked-lady guilt by pretending to be interested in them because they like comic books. Just like you, you sweaty, doughy pale thing, you! Epic Win’s marketing gimmick has worked like a charm, and now losers like me know about Batman Burlesque, the latest in a string of ploys to get nerds to come watch strippers.

Just look! They dress up like characters from Batman, then take their clothes off! How original!

Nerd burlesque represents a glorious confluence of sophisticated horribleness. It’s meta-bad:

First, you have the gentrification of stripping that is burlesque. Burlesque is retro and involves elaborate costumery. It’s for hipsters and other college-educated white folk who like to congratulate themselves on their politically correct love for “the female enigma.” Which is a nice way of saying they like looking at boobies, just so long as they don’t have to feel dirty while doing it. And the bonus is their girlfriends get to feel good about the woman-empoweringness of it all. Although how naked performing is somehow better when it’s stylized escapes me. Sure, they’re artistes, but so are strippers. You don’t see them renting space in art houses and touting their Ivy league educations.

Add the nerd factor and you get another thing I hate: The co-opting of nerd culture by the mainstream. I liked nerdhood better when it was still an uncool subculture. Combining hot girls and nerd culture is just repackaging nerdiness as capitalism for fanboys, enabling ticket sales, and giving nerd rags a way to up the hit count.

Related Posts: Naked Women Gots Brains!, Give Me G-Strings or Give Me Death, Indie Yuppies

I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller

23 Feb

(imported from MySpace blog)

I miss being cool. I used to be cool, but I must’ve ceased being cool sometime when I wasn’t paying attention. Maybe I never was cool and I was living some kind of horrible delusional life, wherein I created all kinds of characters with which to surround myself.

Perhaps I stopped being cool when I began asserting myself as a legitimate, intelligent being worthy of respect. Maybe it’s because I started the dark-rimmed glasses trend, and all those emo kids hate me for it, so I’ve been ousted from the cool people club. Maybe it’s because I don’t smoke of the ganja… and my head, minus the clouding, is just not as interesting as it used to be.

Perhaps I should embark on an Austin Powers-esque journey to get my mojo back, including a trip back to the swingin’ 60s. I hear mod is back anyway, although my ability to tease my hair is somewhat lacking. I think I could learn, though. Oh, the elusive cool, which we begin lusting after in middle school, and although we grow up, never really stop searching for.

Perhaps my lack of cool can be attributed to my lack of a solid clique. This may be in part to the fact that many of my pals are geographically scattered, and my work-centered schedule tends to conflict with the party-centered schedule of my still A-town bound friends.

Sigh… I must learn to accept my dorkdom. I shall reign over it with an iron fist. Made of bronze.




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