Staying Classy

In the fall of 2013, I finished up the third course in the graduate certificate program in technology and communications through the University of North Carolina’s Journalism school. For this digital writing class, I had to keep a blog.

If you’re interested in seeing any of that work, check it out here. You’ll notice I focused on reality TV for much of my writing (shocking).

The grad certificate program was a really interesting way to stay engaged. As someone who took a detour from the communications career route for a bit, it was a great way to stay invested and see what’s going on with other professionals who are in the field.

At times, though, I felt like a total outsider; like someone who was trying hard to relate to the in-crowd but was in a whole other world. Most of my classmates were currently working in marketing, writing, journalism, PR or some other communications position while I was keeping things running smoothly at Spencer Package Center. Not surprisingly, experience managing a package pick-up facility doesn’t exactly link up with course work in visual communication, digital writing or research.

But in the end, I think my experiences in what is not a traditional communications role really helped strengthen my ability to think differently about how we communicate ideas and why.

It’s easy to get bogged down in status quo when it’s something you do everyday. For me, it allowed me the opportunity to be creative with my assignments and provided me a way to express myself that I didn’t always get through my job. I hope I’m able to translate this into whatever new position I get upon my arrival in Norman, OK, where I am moving in a month.

Communicating with your Communicators

This was another class assignment for my grad certificate.  I incorporated Michael Stipe in this by using him in photo examples.  Because I love him.

Originally submitted for JOMC 712 at UNC on April 30, 2012.

Communicating with your Communicator
A guide to graphics, color and typography

It’s happened to all of us: you’ve asked your marketing pro to make a graphic for an upcoming event and you thought you were totally clear in what you wanted but what ends up in your inbox is not at all what you imagined.  You know he or she can’t read your mind, but surely what you asked for was clear enough, right?

On the flip side, a seemingly simple project lands on your desk and it needs to be done yesterday.  You get started, only to end up going back and forth with the client because the original instructions include a low-res graphic with a vague description. What should have taken a few hours turns into an all-day back and forth on graphic, color or word choices.  Isn’t there a way this could have been solved from the get-go?

Regardless of which side you’re on (and some of us have been on both), it’s a frustrating situation to be in.  Since none of us are mind readers (or at least, we can’t prove that we are yet!), there has to be a better way.

“By sharing a common fundamental understand of visual communication, my clients and I could progress more quickly towards achieving the communication goal at hand,” Jill Powell, Marketing Manager at the University of North Carolina says.

Heather Davis, Marketing & Communications Specialist at Johnson College agrees.  “The more others understand my needs and the College’s needs and why they exist, the more smoothly I can manage my time and resources.”

Miscommunication may even cost you a chance at getting the promotional exposure you need.

“If someone sends me a press release that is a mess,” Patrice Wilding, lifestyles reporter for the Scranton Times-Tribune says, “I am not going to want to respond or work with them specifically since they have not demonstrated a basic understanding of their material or the professionalism it takes to communicate with a serious publication.”

So to make everyone’s already hectic careers a little less so, here are some important concepts to keep in mind when embarking on a new visual project.

Graphics
A picture is worth a thousand words, but you don’t need to remember that many.

“It seems just about every week I have conversations with clients about why their low resolution image pulled from a social media website will not suffice for a print piece, or why a tiny graphic they created in an office productivity application will not render nicely on a t-shirt screen print,” Powell says.

While you may not be a pro at Photoshop, you can be a pro at learning a few key photo and graphic ideas to help your communicator create the best possible outcome.

Resolution: refers to the quality of an image.  Typically, you’ll hear “hi-res” or “low-res” images. Low-res images are usually anything you’ve saved from the web and are best avoided if possible.  “It makes my job easier when I am sent pictures that are of a higher resolution,” Davis says.  It’s better to err on the side of high resolution rather than low.  High resolution photos can always be made into lower resolution, but the reverse is not true.

If you are asking your communicator to also act as photographer, it may be helpful to give him or her a bit of direction in the type of photo you’re looking for.  One of Poynter’s self-guided course outlines three types of photos.

Informational: basically, a person, place or thing.  Not extremely visually interesting but literally gets the information across.

Example:

Michael Stipe on a step and repeat. source

Passive: staged photos, with a posed person, place or thing, usually in the form of a portrait.

Example:

Michael Stipe photographed by Slava Mogutin for Whitewall Magazine. source

Active: real time, real life, not staged photos.  These capture the action as it’s happening, and tend to make the most visually pleasing photos.

Example:

Michael Stipe live in Raleigh, NC. source

If you’ve already got the photos but don’t know which the best to choose are, JProf.com has a great article that can help you get started on narrowing it down.

Color
More than just ROYGBIV.

“There’s a reason why we use certain colors,” Davis says.  And it’s not just because it looks pretty.  Color theory is a complex subject, but a basic understanding of a few color concepts will help you communicate your ideas with your communicator immensely.

Color Wheel: You may remember learning about primary and secondary colors as a youngster in art class.  This handy tool is extremely useful when creating color schemes for projects, and understanding how it works will give you the ability to give great direction.

Example of a color wheel


source

Warm colors: the colors on the wheel ranging from red to yellow.  They give a feeling of urgency, energy, passion and excitement


source

Cool colors: the colors on the wheel ranging from blue to violet.  They give a sense of calmness, relaxation and professionalism.


source

Neutral colors: black and white, as well as shades of gray, brown, beige and cream.  They are especially effective when used as a backdrop for more vibrant colors.


source

Commentary colors:  colors on opposite ends of the color wheel.  They are often visually pleasing when used together.


source

Analogous colors:  colors next to one another on the color wheel.


source

There are plenty of resources on the web to help you delve more into color and color theory, including the more involved subjects of hue, chroma, saturation, brightness, shade, tint, etc.  For more information, check out Smashing Magazine’s three-part series (1, 2, 3).

If your client or company has a predetermined set of colors that it always uses, make that clear in your project instructions.  If you’re working with a communicator who primarily works in one area, he or she will probably understand what you need even if you don’t know the specific color attributes.  For example, if you’re dealing with someone who works at the University of North Carolina and your request includes the phrase “Tar Heel Blue,” he or she working on the project will likely know the exact hue, tint or shade for that.

Text and Typography
Read between the lines.

Take time and consideration when your piece has a text component.  If you’re pitching a publication, make sure your press release highlights the most important items.  “I like for the message and/or relevant information to be clear and easy to identify,” advises Wilding. “This makes my job easier when it comes to supporting the merits of the story and actually writing/coordinating the art for a story.”

Organizations like newspapers will already have a set typography.  However, in other outlets you may have the opportunity to control the look and feel of your text.  Understanding some simple typography will help you steer your communicator in the right direction.

Serif: tiny strokes at the end of the letters

Examples:
serif_fonts
source: author

Sans Serif: literally, without those tiny strokes on at the end of the letters.

Examples:
san_serif_fonts
source: author

If you’re interested in getting more in-depth with typography, Poynter offers a free self-guided course.  To help you in picking out typeface, read Smashing Magazine’s article on font familes.

Whether you’re the person who will be doing the actual piece or the client requesting the work, make it a point to remember these basic definitions when you’re about to embark on a new project.  If you’re the person on the giving end, take a few extra minutes before shooting off that email or requesting that new project to make sure your direction is clear and that you’ve hit all the important points (making sure to include pertinent graphics in the correct resolution, color suggestions and any copy).  If you’re on the receiving end, take a few seconds before getting started to make sure you understand what the client wants and to make sure you have all the necessary tools and direction.  “Teamwork, patience and flexibility are important in visual communications,” says Davis.    I’d add communication and knowledge to that list as well.

The Best Part of Waking Up

I, like any nerd child growing up in the early 90s, loved Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. I mean, a game show for kids based on GEOGRAPHY? You have to find a crook using knowledge of states and countries and, to track down Carmen herself, identify countries on a giant map in a certain amount of time?  SIGN ME UP.  For all the non athletic kids out there, this was the best alternative to Nickelodeon Guts. I did not “have it” as required by Guts (“it” being a single athletic bone in my body), but I did have a certain penchants for maps and atlases. Carmen Sandiego was the game for me.

Any fan of Carmen Sandiego knows that probably the greatest part of the show, besides the absolute global geek out, was obviously its house band Rockapella. This five-piece a capella group performed the classic theme song “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and intermittently sang little ditties  throughout the show.

They specialized in parodies!  Oh, you’re so silly, Rockapella.

As I got older, I had forgotten (or rather, stopped thinking about) this show and Rockapella.  That is, until the late 90s rolled around and this amazing Folger’s commercial started airing in our homes:

At the time this started airing (1998), the boy band movement was just about to hit a fever pitch.  Even me, a still pretty nerdy but now teenaged girl, was not immune.  Along with my all time favorite bands of R.E.M., Better than Ezra and Fountains of Wayne now stood groups that relied heavily on strong harmonies and dance moves to attract an audience.   Of all the so called boy bands of the time, I aligned myself with *N Sync, because they were the best singers with the most incredible harmonies.  Plus, they were cuter than Backstreet Boys. (By the way, my favorite was, and still is, JC Chasez. He has the best voice in the group and, besides that, LOOK AT HIM.)

When I first heard the Folgers commercial, I was freaking out over the sounds.  I’ve always been a sucker for excellent harmonies (when Hanson came on the scene a year earlier in 1997,  13 year old Jenny could hardly deal with the trifecta of musicians, excellent harmonies, AND BROTHERS).  Rockapella was blowing my mind.  This jingle was catchy as hell, and they didn’t even use or need instruments.

It didn’t make me go out and buy Folgers, but it did lead me in the years since then to buy a few Rockapella albums (their Christmas ones are DELIGHTFUL) and see them live a couple of times.  In recent years, a capella music has turned cool and mainstream, and Rockapella continues to play shows and make albums.

Every so often, I’ll search out the Folgers commercial on YouTube and reminisce about being a nerdy college student, seeing Rockapella live at a park in Pittsburgh.  Or about being a nerdy teenage girl, rocking out to a capella jams in her computer room.  Or about being a nerdy pre-adolescent watching Carmen Sandiego in her grandparents’ living room and shouting out answers to the TV.  And then smile over realizing that, even though I’m nearly 30 now, I haven’t really changed all that much.

Oh, and I drink coffee now.  I don’t think Rockapella had anything to do with it, but it’s worth noting.  Not really a Folgers girl but, now that it’s on my mind, maybe I’ll give it a try.

Is This the Real Life, or It It Just Fantasy?

I wrote this for a course I took for my graduate certificate in Fall 2012.  We had to write a research paper on whatever topic we chose.  I wanted to keep myself interested, so I chose a subject I love dearly: reality TV dating shows.  

Originally submitted for JOMC 714 at UNC on November 11, 2012.

Is This the Real Life, or Is It Just Fantasy?
Love and dating on reality TV and how it influences real-life love

You probably do not put much thought into where your ideas about dating, relationships, love and marriage come from.  Sit in on any Psychology 101 lecture and you will hear the professor tell students that the images surrounding them have a bearing on what they perceive as love: their parents, things they read, television programs they watch.  There is no doubt that television has an influence on how members of society view their own ideal relationships.  Scripted shows from “I Love Lucy” to the “Cosby Show” to “Modern Family” have often shown us the perfect relationship, the perfect family and how they are constructed.  However, as viewers, we know that what we are seeing on shows like that is not real: someone wrote it, and actors are playing it out on screen for our entertainment.

Now, in the 21st century, reality TV blurs the line between what is fake on TV and what is supposed to be real.  In the era of reality TV, the viewer has real people to look at as role models in influencing behaviors and norms.  This is ever-present in the reality TV dating show where your average Joe or Jane has a chance to find love in glamorous and exciting ways.

It has long been documented that television (and the media in general) is a strong influence on constructing one’s personal beliefs and ideals.  So what does this say about dating in real life?

WHAT IS REALITY TV?
It may seem like a silly question, but the answer to what defines reality TV isn’t clear cut.  Everyone has a different picture pop into their head when hearing the term “reality TV.”  Some might instantly think of competitive endurance shows:  “The Amazing Race,” “Survivor.”  Some might think of competitive shows where an audience helps choose a winner:  “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars.”  Others go straight to shows that follow the lives of certain people, sometimes famous (“Keeping up with the Kardashians”) or the not (yet) famous (Real Housewives series).  To put it simply, and for the context of this article, reality TV is any show that purports itself to be unscripted, whether it be a competition or following everyday life.

LOVE ON REALITY
According to Nielsen Ratings, in July 2012, 8.9 million viewers tuned in to ABC to watch Emily Maynard chose her mate on the season finale of the eighth season of “The Bachelorette.” She began the season with 25 suitors, and had narrowed it down to two by the final episode.  Love was thick in the air as Jef Holm got down on one knee and proposed after dating Emily for about three months.

Shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” characterize love as an inevitability, a luxury and highly romantic pursuit.  Private island picnics, helicopter rides, intimate overnight dates in luxurious suites are par for the course.  For a show that touts itself as reality, it seems like these exotic dates couldn’t be further from most people’s real life. Indeed, many people seem to go on reality TV to experience the types of things you cannot or do not normally experience in your everyday life (Syvertsen 2001).

However, a study on Trista Rehn, who starred as the first bachelorette of the series, and her subsequent marriage to the man she chose, Ryan, showed that despite the grandiose nature of the wedding itself, viewers were influenced by the idea of reproducing the fantasy portrayed in real life weddings, despite affordability (Sgroi 2006). While the amount of money spent on weddings is actually down in recent years, the number of people going into debt over their dream wedding is still high (Grossman 2012).  Research has shown that debt, in general, is a leading cause of divorce in marriage (Marshall and Skogrand 2004).  Spending a fortune before the marriage even starts may set a negative tone for the future of the relationship.  It is ironic that the likelihood of divorce is increased by being in debt, which often begins or is exacerbated with the wedding itself!

An important factor to consider is why people watch these types of reality programs to begin with.  Reality TV is often seen as escapist entertainment, as a way to step out of your own reality and into someone else’s. Escape and the feeling of excitement while watching have been cited by viewers as reasons why they tune in (Roberti 2007). In youth, it may even be the result of modeling after peers (Vandenbosch and Eggermont 2011). Learning the social norms of relationships is occasionally cited as a reason to watch (Roberti 2007) but may actually have less of an influence than you might think. In fact, it appears that the viewer who says they are watching for entertainment purposes is shown to have more attitudes influenced by these programs than previously expected (Zubriggen and Morgan 2006).  You could be watching something and say that you are not in it to get a take-away, but your behaviors and attitudes may be adjusting without you even realizing it.

LOVE IN REALITY
So how does watching dating on reality TV manifest itself in everyday life?
It turns out, a stronger belief and faith in romance portrayed on TV, both scripted and reality, correlates to an ability to actually be less likely to stay committed in a relationship (Osborn 2012).   Perhaps the glorified romance of such programming leads to unreasonable or unattainable expectations in reality?

Stereotyping is a huge byproduct of heavy reality TV watching.  In particular, feelings that women are sex objects and men are sex-driven (Ferris et al 2007) and that love is a game (Cherry 2008, Ferris et al 2007) are strengthened with increased watching. These attitudes can play out in not only self-sabotaging ways, such as avoiding relationships and placing judgments on potential partners, but can be dangerous as well. The idea of women as sex objects may lead men to more deviant sexual behaviors or the idea that men are sex-driven may lead to women being overly skeptical of the motives of men. Not to mention, thinking of love as a game implies there is a winner … and a loser.

Perceptions of how aspects of dating are portrayed also contribute to how relationships play out in real life. Men report viewing sex as being portrayed realistically on reality TV, while women report love is portrayed realistically (Punyanunt-Carter 2006). In a heterosexual relationship, this could mean a conflict of expectations within the relationship setting. For example, with love and sex often happening fast on reality TV, a woman may be focusing on the romance portion while a man is focusing on the bedroom and they end up missing each other on different trajectories.

Implications of reality television dating shows are seen strongly in adolescents.  Girls in particular have their attitudes shaped by watching love on reality TV. Talk of sex among peers increases in girls who watch these types of programs, and their perception level of the experience of peer boys also elevates (Vandenbosch and Eggermont 2011). Tack on peer pressure and hormones and this could lead straight to an increase in sexual behaviors that they may not have been considering or ready to participate in yet.

One phenomena not fully explored is the connection viewers feel between themselves and the reality star. In one study, participants would talk about reality stars as if they were talking about a friend, and mentioned going so far as to connect with that person on social media (Cherry 2008). Does this mean that the viewer may be looking for love … with the person on television who is looking for love?

An interesting point to consider is the success (or rather, lack of success) rate of couples that come from the “Bachelor” and “Bachelorette” series. Of the 16 seasons of “The Bachelor,” 14 couples broke up within one year and none have resulted in marriage. Of eight “Bachelorette” couples, four ended within a year, two ended within two years, one is still engaged and one is married. The congenial feeling viewers have towards characters on these programs may cause the viewers to actually feel the break up with couple, which in turn could play out negatively in their own relationship.

THE OTHER SIDE
There is, however, evidence that does show little correlation between television watching and the construction of ideals of love. A study of single women showed that other factors–in particular, age and how long she’s been single–are stronger in defining their social identity (Cheever 2010). This does not account for how the woman comes up with the ideas of when the right age is to be settled down or how long is too long to be single.

Since 1990, both the marriage and divorce rate in the United States has gone down (U.S. Census of Population and Housing 2012). Whether or not reality television, or any television at all, has any role in this particular change in society is unknown.  However, it is important to note this change as it signifies a change in cultural norms regarding marriage in the United States, which may have roots in the portrayal of love on television.

Gender roles may also play an important role in the outcome of reality dating shows. No couple out of 16 seasons has persevered from “The Bachelor,” while two out of eight survived “The Bachelorette,” resulting in one marriage so far.  Relationships stemming from “The Bachelorette” also tend to last longer. This begs the question: when women are in the driver’s seat position of these shows, is it coincidence that their successes are higher, or is there something else going on?

Furthermore, studies about dating on reality TV focus primarily on relationships between a woman and a man. This may be due to the lack of dating programs that feature gay contestants. It would be interesting to study the impressions of gay viewers on heterosexual dating programs to see if it has any influence on their relationships in real life.

IN REALITY
When reality TV began to become more prevalent, it was seen as an alternative to scripted or news television. Ordinary people have an opportunity to step into a world they may never get to otherwise experience (Syvertsen 2001).  It makes sense, then, that viewers would relate to people in those positions and possibly see them as peers and role models for their dating behaviors.

The question becomes, then, as more people enter reality dating television and bring the norms they have learned from programs before, does the connection between dating in real life and dating on television become cyclical? Or, are they two linear and somewhat parallel paths? My guess is it is somewhere in between. We tune in nightly, mainly with the purpose of being entertained and maybe escaping our own reality, but it turns out that when we turn off the pressure of trying to “get something” out of television, we may turn on something else that allows us to soak up the things we see without even realizing it (Zubriggen and Morgan 2006).  And whether we like it or not, our desires and dreams of the fantasy of love and the perfect marriage have roots in reality TV (Sgroi 2006).

Love has always had encouragement from pop culture, and with the continuous growth in both the number and popularity of reality TV programs, perceptions of love will continue to be influenced by dating television.

 

References
Cheever, Nancy Ann. 2010. “The Cultivation of Social Identity In Single Women: The Role of Single Female Characterizations and Marriage and Romantic Relationship Portrayals on Television”. PhD diss., Fielding Graduate University.
Cherry, Kristin L. 2008. “Reality TV and Interpersonal Relationship Perceptions.” PhD diss. University of Missouri – Columbia.
Ferris, Amber L., Sandi W. Smith, Bradley S. Greenberg and Stacy L. Smith. 2007. “The Content of Reality Dating Shows and Viewer Perceptions of Dating”. Journal of Communication 57, no. 3: 490–510.
Grossman, Cathy L. 2012. “Average Couple Spends $26,989 On Wedding; Many Break Budget.” USA Today. August 10, 2012.
Marshall, James P., and Linda Skogrand. 2004. ”Newlywed Debt: The Anti-Dowry.” The Forum 9, no. 1.
Osborn, Jeremy L. 2012. “When TV and Marriage Meet: A Social Exchange Analysis of the Impact of Television Viewing on Marital Satisfaction and Commitment.” Mass Communication and Society 15., no.5: 739-757.
Punyanunt-Carter, Narissra Maria. 2006. “Love on Television: Reality Perception Differences Between Men and Women.” North American Journal Of Psychology 8, no. 2: 269-276.
Roberti, Jonathan W. 2007. “Demographic Characteristics and Motives of Individuals Viewing Reality Dating Shows.” Communication Review 10, no. 2: 117- 134.
Sgroi, Renee. 2006. “Consuming the Reality TV Wedding.” Ethnologies 28, no. 2: 113.
Syvertsen, Trine. 2001. “Ordinary People In Extraordinary Circumstances: A Study of Participants In Television Dating Games.” Media, Culture & Society 23, no.3:319-337.
U.S. Census of Population and Housing. 2012. “Births, Deaths, Marriages, & Divorces: Marriages and Divorces.” Washington, D.C.
Vandenbosch, Laura, and Steven Eggermont. 2011. “Temptation Island, the Bachelor, Joe Millionaire: A Prospective Cohort Study On the Role of Romantically Themed Reality Television In Adolescents’ Sexual Development.” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media 55, no.4:563-580.
Zurbriggen, Eileen L., and Elizabeth M. Morgan. 2006. “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?  Reality Dating Television Programs, Attitudes towards Sex, and Sexual Behaviors.” Sex Roles 54, no. 1-2:1-17.

 

iPad

The iPad is awesome. But it is completely inconvenient for some things. Like…

1. Trying to watch TV
Missed an episode of Amazing Race? No worries! I’ll just head on over to CBS.com and stream it. Oh, you want me to download your app? No thanks, just the show. Oh, I can only watch clips and not the latest full episode? Okay, I guess I’ll try your app. Even though half the time I downloaded a TV app I still can’t watch the show because it will only provide streaming through certain cable providers EVEN THOUGH I can go to your website on a computer and stream from there WITHOUT said cable provider (I’m looking at you Fox).

2. Taking a picture
See: this.

3. Multitasking
It took me twenty minutes to search for the above link and paste it because I had to open and close apps and double click to select all and paste and BLAH. Before that, I was trying copy job links into emails so I can apply later and having to click back and forth between Safari and my email was infuriating!!!

4. Typing in forms
This mainly stems from the keyboard taking up half the screen when turned sideways.

5. Typing in general
Even with larger letters than an iPhone and tinier than normal fingers (I’m a mutant), it is easy to typo like crazy. Hence why this entry is now complete.

travel tips

I like to travel (who doesn’t?).  I wrote this for an old blog.  I consider myself a travel authority because I know how to use Google and also because I said so.

Originally written: July 12, 2011

Even before I ever traveled somewhere via airplane, I felt like I knew what the fuck I was doing. Before my first flight, I did some research on the internet on what to expect, and therefore rolled in there with the confidence of a pro.

Since that time, I’ve gotten around. Accumulating debt in order to experience the country (and hopefully one day the world) is better than having money. I travel a lot alone, but occasionally I get a companion. And for the most part, these people are also not idiots and come across as respectable and experienced travelers. Thank god. Because I have no tolerance for dumb asses.

I’m a know-it-all, and thus thought I should share my pro-tips for comfortable and awesome travels.

Via air

1. Don’t get to the airport too early.
Getting there early almost always blows. I try to limit my time hanging out at the gate to less than a half hour. But if you do get there too early or have a long layover…

2. Find the best bar.
I hate fancy shmancy wine bars or places that serve smelly foods (see: sea food). For the airports I regularly end up at, I know my spots. But if you’re going into uncharted waters, take five seconds and check the airport’s website to see what’s around your airline’s terminal.

Quick story: while waiting for a flight in Boston, I met my Boston Boyfriend Jeff at a Fox Sports Bar. He was the bartender, gave me a chiseler deal on a drink, and we’ve been in love ever since. At least on Facebook we are. It’s satisfying for now.

3. Have plenty of reading material.
I always make sure that I have a shit ton of magazines and books to keep me occupied, even if I’m taking some like short ass half hour flight. I prefer trash magazines to any other type of reading material, because it’s light and in the event of some tragedy, I wanna go down with my last memory being of what diet recently worked for a Kardashian or who’s breaking Jennifer Aniston’s heart now.

4. Take control of your kids.
If you’re one of those assholes who decided procreation was a smart idea, don’t be an even bigger asshole and let your kid ruin everyone’s time. We’re all shoved in a tiny germ entrenched capsule. Don’t make it worse by letting your kid run around, scream or generally have its presence known. Benedryl that monster and make it sleep.

5. Don’t be a bitch.
Complaining about delays doesn’t make shit happen faster. It’s called life. Bitching about it doesn’t fix it. We all know your time is more valuable than anyone else’s one earth but just because you didn’t plan with some foresight doesn’t mean we can just make shit change. Deal with it.

6. Don’t stand in the aisle.
Plane’s landed and you wanna get off. We get it. But being in row 28 and standing in the middle of the aisle waiting for 20 minutes to get off makes you look like an asshole. Also, don’t try to get ahead. Unless we’re super late and there are some connections to be made in the next like 30 seconds, you’re just going to make the situation worse by trying to get ahead.

Via car

1. Snacks, snacks, snacks.
Pack those munchies. Chips, drinks, candy… they are all necessary if you’re going to be in the car for longer than an hour.

2. Make an epic playlist.
Everyone is going to want to sing their asses off for at least the first 2 hours. If someone has Rhapsody on their intelligent phone, then your party is set indefinitely.

3. Help with gas.
Don’t be a jackass and not offer to pay up. If you’re driving, make sure your friends aren’t asses and offer to help without you having to make them feel guilty about it.

4. Speed.
Wherever you’re trying to end up, everyone wants to get there ASAP, even if the ride is fun as shit. Usually, that’s because whatever is at the destination involves drinking. And drinking trumps all.

5. Booze cruise.
If you’re not driving, then you should probably start your drinking in the car. Mix a cocktail and pass around. Sorry driver, but you’ll get rewarded later when you arrive at your final destination and you guilt everyone into getting you wasted in order to make up for not being able to participate in the car.

Via another public method

1. Don’t do this.

a disseration on a reality tv cast member

Another old post from the archives.  This one came about as a result of a gchat conversation.  As usual, I was breaking down Reality TV for a friend, who considers me an expert because I spend most of my conscious time watching or reading up on different reality personalities.  After season 3’s Bachelor Pad ended with this guy taking all the money for himself, ABC cancelled the show in what was THE MOST DRAMATIC CANCELLATION IN TELEVISION HISTORY.

Originally written: August 20, 2011

I got caught up in a conversation about TV because the person talking to me considers me a connoisseur of the television. After going off about how I missed my opportunity to be on Real World (damn you cut off age!) and about why I consider reality TV fantasy TV, I began to delve into the beauty that is The Bachelor franchise.

It started off innocently enough, with me explaining the premise of Bachelor Pad, the newest iteration of the Bachelor/ette franchise. It’s only in its second season, but this shit is establishing itself as pure gold. It takes the romance element of your standard dating show and twists it with the competitive, I’ll-do-anything-for-a-buck mentality of shows like Big Brother and Survivor. Throw in a ton of narcissism and a dash of crazy mental instability (not a whole lot, but just enough to make it interesting), and you’ve got yourself a winner.

The beauty of Bachelor Pad is that you don’t have to be a winner on some sappy show like the Bachelor/ette to compete. In fact, with the exception of the infamous Jake and Vienna, no one on Bachelor Pad’s two season has been a winner of one of the other shows. Usually, they were the token crazy or loveable loser or dramatically dumped or something to that effect. It’s the people that the viewer wants to see again, because you know they’re going to do or say something ridiculous.

The premise of the show is to make it to the end in order to win money, either as a couple of individually. The twist in the first season was the couple at the end had to decide independently if they would split the money or if they wanted to keep it all for his/her self. If they both chose split, they split it. If one chose keep it and one chose split, the person who chose keep it gets to keep it all. If they both chose keep it, the rest of the cast gets to split the money and they get none. OOOOOOOOH. Shockingly, they split it. Nothing dramatic there.

Anyway, who’s to say what this season will bring. And I’m digressing from my original intent of this post, which was to talk about one cast member in particular.

On this week’s episode, Jackie was eliminated in a not too shocking rose ceremony. The shocker (heh) came when Ames eliminated himself to follow love and be with Jackie, whom he met mere days earlier on the show. It was touching and heartfelt and romantic and, I admit it, I cried. Of course they aren’t together anymore, but still. It was sweet.

What I really want to dig into is this Ames character. He was just on The Bachelorette, and here’s a video montage of his elimination. See if there’s something you notice that’s a little… off… about him:

If you thought: WHY THE FUCK DOESN’T THIS GUY CLOSE HIS MOUTH EVER? Then you are right on track.

Here’s the thing. I really, really, REALLY want to be attracted to this guy. I mean, he’s kinda got a rockin’ bod:

Plus, he’s super educated. A quick google search on this dude turns up the information that he got his undergrad at Yale, his masters at Columbia and is working on his PHD at Harvard. Is this dude for real?

On top of all of that, he didn’t carry the usual machismo douche bagginess that guys on these types of shows usually sport. He was kind of artsy almost, and definitely a renaissance man.

Here’s his hometown date.

Skip to the end where he and Ashley are all alone, and he’s trying to romance her with a picnic. He says this shit about there being more magic in the ordinary and all kinds of bs that would normally turn my stomach, but the way he just so casually mentions it… it’s kind of nerdy and educational more than contrived. It seems like this is how he is. And it’s weird and kind of wonderful.

BUT GOD DAMN IT DUDE THAT MOUTH.

Just. Close. It. Up. When. You’re. Not. Talking.

I want to like this guy. But he always looks vacant. All herp-a-derp-a-doo. Maybe that’s part of what makes him appear genuine. But god damn it. Is he super hot or is he a dud? I CANNOT MAKE A SOUND JUDGEMENT.

During his entire time on the Bachelorette, I was always most conflicted about him. I’d hate him one second and then be like wow this dude is kind of interesting then right back to ugh. I’d go from thinking he’s a total bore to someone totally unique.

Fast forward to Bachelor Pad, where once again he looks all blank faced and dopey all the time but then he does something adorable by leaving with a chick he barely knows under the guise of potential love. And it seemed FUCKING REAL. I’m so confused.

What is up with this dude? Why is he such an enigma to me? Is he some kind of super genius who is tricking us all? Is he setting himself to be a reality juggernaut? Or is he really just this odd?

I need to sit this guy down in a room and figure out if it’s for real or not. Or I need to find a new hobby. One of those things.